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Gabrielle Carteris Re-Elected SAG-AFTRA President

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris has been re-elected easily to a two-year term by members of the performers union.

Results were announced Thursday evening by the performers union, which sent out about 144,000 ballots to members with 28,988 voting. Jane Austin, the current SAG-AFTRA secretary-treasurer, was also re-elected.

Carteris, who was named by the national board last year to replace Ken Howard, fended off spirited challenges from national board member Esai Morales, stuntman Pete Antico, and independents Robert B. Martin, Jr. and Marilyn Monrovia.

Carteris received 14,674 votes, with Morales receiving 8,145 votes and Antico taking 4,114 votes. Martin received  1,207 votes and Monrovia took 715. Austin also had an easy victory with 15,312 votes while challengers Jason George received 10,953 votes and Chuck Slavin received 2,248 votes.

The campaign for the presidency was particularly acrimonious with allegations of election fraud, mishandling of the recent contract negotiations, and issues arising from the 2012 SAG-AFTRA merger and the 2000 commercials strike.

Carteris is best known for her role as Andrea Zuckerman in the ’90s TV show “Beverly Hills, 90210.” She is a veteran of union politics who succeeded Howard as acting president from her post as executive VP after his death in March 2016. She was then unanimously elected by the board as president to fill the remaining 16 months of Howard’s term.

In running for the board, Carteris topped the slate for the ruling moderate-leaning Unite for Strength faction and touted her work as the head of the negotiating team on the new three-year contract for work on feature films and primetime TV. That successor deal was ratified earlier this month with 76% support among members voting.

“I’m deeply humbled that our members have entrusted me with the privilege and honor of continuing to lead our great union,” Carteris said. “During the campaign I pledged to work every day to protect and empower our SAG-AFTRA members, and I will keep that commitment. I look forward to listening to all of our members, not just those who voted for me. We must continue to work together to truly realize our potential.”

The SAG-AFTRA master contract covers more than $1 billion in annual earnings by members. The Unite for Strength slate took credit for a total of $1 billion in pay increases for members since the faction came to power in 2009; the 2012 SAG-AFTRA merger; the increase of $1.65 billion in tax credits allocated in 2014 by the California legislature; and combining the separate SAG and AFTRA health plans earlier this year.

Morales ran as head of the progressive-leaning Membership First slate with Austin as his running mate. Curiously, the duo announced their candidacies on June 12, but didn’t campaign in the first month, asserting that they wanted to show unity with the SAG-AFTRA negotiating team, which reached a deal on July 4.

Morales announced his opposition to ratifying the new contract on July 19, asserting that it fell short in compensation for travel costs, basic cable, motion-capture, and background players.

He also indicated that elected leaders had been too accommodating to the companies, questioning why the union leadership reached a deal at 6 a.m. on July 4, asserting that fatigue may have played a factor in making concessions in the tentative agreement. Morales also said he did not understand the tactic of SAG-AFTRA leaders promising to seek a strike authorization from members, but then never following through — as the Writers Guild of America had done in April prior to reaching its deal.

Morales also ran for president in 2013 and lost to Howard. Patricia Richardson headed the Membership First slate in 2015 and also lost to Howard.

Antico, who has dozens of stunt credits on his resume, also opposed ratification of the deal. He blasted the union leadership for failure to provide protection to the stunt community, a day after the death of stuntwoman Joi “SJ” Harris on the set of “Deadpool 2” and a month after John Bernecker’s death on “The Walking Dead” set.

Austin, a stuntwoman who was a surprise winner of the post in 2015, said in her victory statement Thursday, “Thank you my fellow members, for exercising your right to vote and trusting me to represent your interests for another two years as the Secretary-Treasurer of SAG-AFTRA. It is an honor to continue the work that has been set in motion, and to provide transparency in union activities in order to achieve many more future successes on your behalf.”

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