SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard has remained a working actor — portraying a judge in “The Judge” with SAG-nominated Robert Duvall — while admitting that the acting game isn’t easy for any of the union’s 160,000 members.
“Actors are in a tough business and we always have concerns,” Howard says. “Getting paid promptly has been a challenge and that’s why we spent time getting our residuals processing times down from around 90 days to under 30 days. Getting enough work is also a concern.”
To that end, Howard recently created the President’s Task Force for Education, Outreach and Engagement to push for greater activism and organizing. “That will make a difference in adding to the available work as will increasing the number of signatory producers,” he notes.
Howard campaigned actively for the 2012 merger of SAG and AFTRA, which he terms “a tremendous success” after negotiating six major contracts and streamlining two separate organizations into one that’s more efficient and powerful. He’s still pushing for a merger of the separate SAG and AFTRA health and retirement plans.
“Progress is being made,” Howard says. “While decisions about our benefits plans ultimately rest with the trustees and not the union, our members and our union trustees all understand what’s at stake.”
He hasn’t decided whether to go for another two-year term as president later this year. “It’s too soon to comment on that, but I can say that I certainly love representing the members of SAG-AFTRA,” Howard adds.