Howard, who has espoused pragmatism since being elected SAG’s president in 2009, has established the President’s Task Force for Education, Outreach and Engagement. The task force was announced Saturday at SAG-AFTRA national board meeting with goal of building an alliance “dedicated to solidarity, unity and activism on behalf of their union and their fellow members.”
That initiative will include on-site local membership meetings, coordinated local events, academic outreach, film and television set visits, TV station visits, seminars on union governance and communications materials.
The effort could represent a shift toward more activism, three years after Howard and his allies successfully convinced members to vote for a merger of SAG and AFTRA amid heated opposition. Those moderates have dominated elections for the past five years and only a few self-styled progressives of the Membership First faction remain on the 80-member board.
Backers of the merger insisted that the combination of unions would translate to more clout at the bargaining table. During last year’s negotiations, those leaders kept a low profile on the substance of negotiations with no effort to mobilize members in support of their positions, then reached a deal for a new master contract on film and primetime TV with terms largely mirroring those in deals for the Directors Guild and Writers Guild.
“I am pleased to be looking ahead and forging a new partnership among our union, membership and other communities.,” Howard said. “Together, we will advance relevant new initiatives that engage members while adding to our core strengths.”
During Saturday’s videoconference meeting in Los Angeles and New York, the board appointed Howard, exec VP Gabrielle Carteris, Broadcasters VP Catherine Brown and national board members Rebecca Damon and Ellen Crawford. Alternates chosen were VP Recording Artists Dan Navarro, New York board member Jamal Story and national board member Abby Dylan.
Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino and CFO Arianna Ozzanto also reported Saturday that expected revenue and expenses are tracking closely to budget.
The board also voted to forgo the automatic 2% increase in the union’s $3,000 initiation fee provided for in the 2012 merger agreement. The fee would have gone to $3,060.