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SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris’ Election Victory Sparks Protests

Several protests have been filed over the re-election of Gabrielle Carteris to the SAG-AFTRA presidency last week.

Carteris won the contest handily to remain as top elected officer of the performers union with 13,537 votes, or 44% of ballots cast, compared to 10,682 for Matthew Modine; 5,048 for Jane Austin; 1,096 for Queen Alljahye Searles and 367 for Abraham Justice.

Los Angeles board member Brian Hamilton alleged in his complaint Tuesday to the union’s election committee that the two August airings of the Fox series “BH90210,” in which Carteris starred as the president of a fictional actors union, amounted to “a not-so-subtle national commercial” for the Carteris campaign. The series is a reboot of the original “Beverly Hills 90210,” in which Carteris played the brainy Andrea Zuckerman.

Carteris is also one of the executive producers of “BH90210” and goes by the name “Gabrielle” in the series as president of the “Actors Guild of America.” Ballots went out in late July and had to be returned by Aug. 28. Hamilton said the airings on Aug. 7 and 14 mean that Carteris was given a nationwide primetime broadcast TV ad by Fox.

“These episodes aired during our union’s election period while thousands of members had voting ballots in their possession,” he said. “This is about Gabriel Carteris receiving something of extraordinary value directly from an employer (Fox) which clearly gave her candidacy an unfair advantage in the election.”

U.S. labor rules in Title IV Section (g) of the Labor-Management Reporting & Disclosure Act say: “No moneys of an employer shall be contributed or applied to promote the candidacy of any person in an election subject to the provisions of this title.”

Hamilton added, “The law prohibits both direct contributions and indirect financial support by a union or employer to a candidate for union office.”

Also in his complaint, Hamilton attested that Carteris received “preferential treatment” from the union when she took credit in her candidate’s statement for a new deal with Netflix since that deal that was not approved until several weeks after candidates’ statements were due in June.

Hamilton told Variety that he was acting on his own and not on behalf of the Membership First slate, which supported Modine, Hamilton and several dozen other candidates. The Unite For Strength slate, which was headed by Carteris, brushed off the allegations.

“We’re confident that Gabrielle and her campaign scrupulously adhered to the law,” the group said. “It is preposterous for Membership First to continue fabricating issues to distract from their own election violations, which have been well documented in the LA Times. Legal experts agree that Matthew Modine and Membership First have violated federal law.”

Modine was accused by Carteris during the campaign of violating labor law by placing three videos on his campaign site after they were produced by the for-profit New York Film Academy. The NYFA videos were produced at no cost to Modine, who narrated and highlighted the contributions of stunt performers, background performers, singers and dancers.

Additionally, a group called the Background Artists Coalition has also filed a complaint alleging that the exclusion of Justice and Searles from an Aug. 15 town hall meeting was in violation of election rules requiring  “equal treatment.” The event was sponsored by UnionWorking.

Modine has not indicated whether he will file an election complaint. The Labor Department required the Screen Actors Guild to re-run the 2002 presidential election due to irregularities with ballot envelopes. Melissa Gilbert defeated the late Valerie Harper in both contests.

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