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SAG-AFTRA Obtains International Support for Anti-Harassment Efforts

SAG-AFTRA has obtained a declaration from the International Federation of Actors urging the industry to work with unions to achieve workplaces that are free of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

“We are very proud to author and sponsor this declaration,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Sexual harassment and abuse is pervasive across nations and we are committed to working with our fellow FIA members to develop and implement educational and informational materials and best practices in this area. Working together we can help curtail this abuse now.”

The declaration was approved unanimously Thursday by the IFA’s executive committee at its meeting in Croatia. SAG-AFTRA is one of 87 member organizations. The issue has gained significant traction since the Oct. 5 publication of a New York Times story about allegations of sexual abuse by now-disgraced ex-mogul Harvey Weinstein — prompting dozens of women to come forward along with three criminal investigations. Reps for Weinstein have denied that any sexual relations were non-consensual.

International Federation of Actors president Ferne Downey said, “The scandal involving Harvey Weinstein revealed problems that were all too familiar to women — and men — in our industry. We know that sexism in our industry is real. We know that there are sexual harassers who use their power to intimidate. And we know that this needs to change. And as union leaders we are taking a stand – we seek nothing less than a major cultural shift. We will develop a long term strategy towards a zero-tolerance and harassment-free work environment.”

SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White moderated a panel at the meeting that discussed efforts to support those who have experienced harassment and develop effective, union-driven strategies for dealing with the issue. Other members of the panel were Zoe Angus, national director of the Equity Section of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance of Australia; Christine Payne, FIA vice-president and general secretary of Equity UK; and Arden Ryshpan, exec director of Canadian Actors Equity Association.

Earlier this week, Carteris called for unions in all sectors to protect workers from sexual harassment in a speech from Croatia to the national convention of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations in St. Louis. Carteris, a member of the AFL-CIO executive council, disclosed in her speech that the leadership of the AFL-CIO has formed a cross-industry working group to deal with the issue.

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