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SAG-AFTRA Developing Code of Conduct to Address Sexual Harassment

SAG-AFTRA leaders are developing a code of conduct for its 160,000 members to deal with sexual harassment.

President Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White made the disclosure in a message sent to members of the union’s national board this week. They said the new code of conduct “will provide clear safety guidance to performers in the work environment and in social environments attached to work where harassment frequently occurs.”

The code of conduct will be presented to and reviewed by the national board before it becomes official. Carteris and White noted that the missive was sent out with the 24th annual SAG Awards taking place Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

“As we approach the awards show weekend, we are receiving more questions about SAG-AFTRA’s efforts to address the issue of harassment and inequity in our industry,” they said. “We welcome the attention and are thrilled with the forceful initiatives now underway to eradicate this terrible disease that is pervasive in our society and industry.”

Carteris has been active on the issue since October’s bombshell allegations about disgraced executive Harvey Weinstein.  She issued a condemnation of Weinstein a few days after the first story broke, headed a panel in Los Angeles on Nov. 14 with Gloria Allred and another three days later in New York. She’s also persuaded the AFL-CIO executive council and the Intl. Federation of Actors to increase their efforts to deal with the problem.

Carteris and White have said previously that the number of reports of sexual harassment that come into SAG-AFTRA have been averaging at least five a day — far above the level prior to October. Carteris and White are also part of the commission that Anita Hill is chairing and she will meet with the union’s blue ribbon commission on safety that was created in October with a subcommittee on sexual harassment.

“It is important that you know that SAG-AFTRA is directly engaged in these efforts, and that we are continuing to expand our own efforts to address the issue through our own channels,” Carteris and White said in the message.

The note also said SAG-AFTRA reps will continue to directly address issues that arise on sets — including shutting down a production when abuse is reported until the problem is addressed, being physically present with members to address a specific complaint, and working directly with the producer when complaints arise.

They also said SAG-AFTRA is enhancing training programs for set reps; working to improve the tracking reports of harassment and abuse while maintaining anonymity and confidentiality for reporters and survivors; working to strengthen existing laws and set new standards; and working to produce public service announcements.

Carteris told Variety recently that she’s been sexually harassed many times. She’s best known for portraying the valedictorian and school newspaper editor Andrea Zuckerman on the long-running series “Beverly Hills, 90210” and has also appeared in “Touched by an Angel,” “King of the Hill,” “NYPD Blue,” “JAG” and “Criminal Minds.”

“So this movement is not meant to go away and is not just a moment in time,” she said. “I actually think this has empowered people who have felt isolated. It doesn’t mean everyone is coming forward. But this really has been a time where the feeling of isolation and abandonment for victims may have been reduced. To be alone in pain in that situation is difficult. I hope that people would feel more able to come forward.”

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