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Esai Morales Threatens Federal Election Complaint Against SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris

Gabrielle Carteris
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With a week to go in a heated SAG-AFTRA election, Esai Morales has warned that his faction may file a federal election fraud complaint against union president Gabrielle Carteris.

Morales is running for president as head of the Membership First faction, which issued a statement Thursday a few days after accusations by Carteris and her allies that Morales has been negligent in his role as first VP of the union’s Los Angeles local by not attending 33 of 35 board meetings. The faction responded by alleging that Carteris has been duplicitous in her behavior by resigning her local seat two years ago — and threatened to make a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Labor if she does so again.

“Unite For Strength is challenging Esai’s attendance record,” Membership First said in a statement. “Both Esai and Gabrielle ran in 2015 for the Los Angeles local board. Both won seats. Esai went to as many board meetings as his work schedule would allow. Gabrielle, on the other hand, simply resigned her seat so that one of her political operatives could then take her place. Thus, Gabrielle never attended one single L.A. board meeting.”

Carteris and Morales are running for the national presidency along with Pete Antico, Robert B. Martin, Jr., and Marilyn Monrovia. Carteris and Morales are also running for the Los Angeles local board. Election results will be announced Aug. 24.

“If Esai wins his, he promises to keep his seat, and again attend as often as he can,” Membership First said. “If Gabrielle wins, we are putting her on notice. If she again gives away her seat, we will immediately file with the DOL an action that Gabrielle intentionally ran, all the while knowing she was going to resign her seat again to allow for another un-elected Unite For Strength person to sit in the L.A. local boardroom. This must be called what it is: election fraud.”

Carteris was not immediately available for comment. During July, she pushed for members to ratify the union’s three-year  deal with production companies covering film and primetime TV work. Morales and Antico campaigned against ratification, saying the contract falls short in travel provisions, basic cable, and residuals. In a vote announced Aug. 7, members ratified the contract by a 3-1 margin.

The union election also covers election of many of the members of the 80-seat national board. Carteris heads the  Unite for Strength faction and its allies control the board while Membership First has about a dozen seats.