Gabrielle Carteris Re-Elected as SAG-AFTRA President

Gabrielle Carteris has been re-elected president of SAG-AFTRA, fending off challenges from Matthew Modine and three other contenders.

Carteris won handily with 13,537 votes, or 44% of ballots cast, to 10,682 for Modine and 5,048 for Jane Austin, 1,096 for Queen Alljahye Searles and 367 for Abraham Justice.

The results were announced early Thursday morning at 4 a.m. following one of the most bitter election campaigns in memory, including multiple accusations of misconduct.

Camryn Manheim won the secretary-treasurer post with 16,047 votes, or 53%, as Carteris’ running mate. She defeated Modine ally Jodi Long, who garnered 10,251 votes, followed by Chuck Slavin with 2,204 votes and Rob Stats with 1,790. The union mailed a total of 145,700 ballots, so the participation level was about 21%.

Carteris, best known for playing Andrea Zuckerman on “Beverly Hills 90210,” has been president since 2016. She and her allies in the moderate-leaning Unite For Strength and United Screen Actors Nationwide have been in control of SAG-AFTRA and SAG for a decade. Modine, whose credits include “Full Metal Jacket” and “Stranger Things,” mounted an aggressive challenge through the progressive Membership First slate.

The election comes with SAG-AFTRA, the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America  heading into what are sure to be complicated master film and TV contract negotiations early next year with the major studios, via the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The SAG-AFTRA and DGA deals expire on June 30 and the WGA deal ends on May 1.

Unite for Strength has traditionally opted for a measured, pragmatic approach that includes keeping details of contract proposals confidential until a tentative deal is reached. Membership First has contended that the union needs to take a more confrontational tack and disclose much more of what it’s attempting to achieve.

Carteris may have been aided by Austin’s candidacy drawing away potential votes for Modine. Austin, a stunt performer, won the secretary-treasurer post in 2015 and 2017 as part of the Membership First ticket but opted to run this year as an independent while criticizing the factionalism of both Membership First and Unite For Strength.

Membership First has not occupied the presidency since Alan Rosenberg did so between 2005 and 2009 as president of the Screen Actors Guild. Ken Howard won the SAG office in 2009 and 2011, then won two more elections in 2013 and 2015 to head the merged SAG-AFTRA, which combined in 2012. Carteris was appointed to replace Howard after he died in 2016 and then won the election in 2017 over Esai Morales.

Membership First candidates dominated in the Los Angeles local voting, winning a dozen of the 16 open seats for the 80-member national board. The slate’s Jennifer Beals led the way with 6,287 votes, followed by former SAG president Ed Asner, Neve Campbell, Patricia Richardson, Elliott Gould, Frances Fisher, Jodi Long, Diane Ladd, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Joanna Cassidy, David Jolliffe and Debbie Evans. Austin,  Carteris and Manheim also won national board seats along with Yvette Nicole Brown. Richardson was also elected Los Angeles local president.

In New York, Rebecca Damon easily won re-election as local president. Damon, Liz Zazzi, Nitasha Bhambree, Elaine Legaro, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Phoebe Jonas, Traci Godfrey and “Sporanos” actor Vincent Pastore won national board seats. All are members of USAN except for Pastore, who is allied with Membership First.

Carteris won election easily in 2017 with 14,674 votes, while Esai Morales received 8,145 votes and Peter Antico took 4,114 votes.

The counting of ballots was overseen by Integrity Voting Systems.

“I’m very grateful to all of the dedicated SAG-AFTRA members who participated in our union’s elections,” Carteris said in a statement. “Their support is humbling and I vow to fight every day on their behalf. We will keep building on our commitment to honesty, transparency and a strategic vision that protects our members, strengthens our contracts, and fortifies our union. I look forward to coming together and working with all of the elected leaders from across the nation. Together, we will continue to build on our successes and further establish SAG-AFTRA as the world’s premier and most powerful entertainment union.”

Manheim said, “I am honored to have been elected as our union’s secretary-treasurer and to serve in partnership with Gabrielle Carteris. I’m grateful to all the SAG-AFTRA members who participated in this critical election. I’m eager to take on my new responsibilities, and to further protect and strengthen our union. I promise to use my loud voice to represent the needs of all our members.”

Modine did not concede defeat. He disclosed in a statement that the results have been challenged from an unidentified group other than Membership First —  which had complained during the campaign about Carteris’ candidate statement, filed in June, in which she claimed credit for a new SAG-AFTRA deal with Netflix before it was approved by the board.

“It appears that there has already been a challenge from outside of the political groups with allegations of impropriety and possible Federal election law violations,” Modine said. “Therefore, as a matter of principal, it is important to withhold judgment until it is determined that the Presidential election was held fairly and in compliance with the labor code. If it is determined that the Presidential election was run within the election law and guidelines, I will fully support whomever has been fairly elected.”

He also said, “I am proud of our campaign for transparency and the goal of uniting all 160,000 members of SAG-AFTRA. It has been an honor to stand with you. I congratulate all of our MembershipFirst candidates on winning important victories tonight. Each will be instrumental in forming a more perfect union.”


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