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AFTRA probes operator of Sagwatch site

Org investigates allegations of union violations

The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists is investigating allegations that a board member has violated union rules by operating the Sagwatch.net website.

AFTRA issued a statement Tuesday confirming that it has been probing the allegations regarding David Browde and the two-year-old website, which is operated anonymously. Sagwatch has been supportive of the current elected leadership of the Screen Actors Guild and highly critical of SAG’s Membership First faction, which has been losing power for the past two years.

AFTRA noted that it is investigating whether there have been any violations of its confidentiality rules or of the two-year-old non-disparagement agreement between SAG and AFTRA. That “no raiding” agreement, brokered by the AFL-CIO as a condition of the unions negotiating a joint commercials contract, bars elected leaders of each union from publicly criticizing the other — and required each union to deposit $2 million for fines.

“AFTRA takes the No-Raiding Agreement very seriously and President (Roberta) Reardon has repeatedly notified all AFTRA elected officials that they are expected to uphold the highest standards of integrity and union solidarity,” AFTRA said Tuesday. “With this in mind, we are investigating this matter. If it turns out that there have been any violations of the No-Raiding Agreement, or of AFTRA’s confidentiality policies, we will take swift and appropriate action.”

Sources close to AFTRA indicated that in late August, various union officials from AFTRA and SAG received anonymous emails alleging that Browde was the owner and editor of Sagwatch and further alleging that this violated the non-disparagement provisions of the No-Raiding agreement.

Those sources also said AFTRA is not associated in any way with Sagwatch and that it views Sagwatch as a press outlet that receives AFTRA press releases.

Browde wasn’t available to comment but Sagwatch posted the AFTRA statement Tuesday along with a comment acknowledging the controversy: “You’ve probably seen the anonymous and fake-name emails being circulated about us, from people calling themselves Union2010SAG and others. We’ve ignored them, as we’ve ignored previous claims that this person or some other person runs or owns Sagwatch.”

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