SAG-AFTRA has tapped Jonathan Handel, a longtime labor journalist and entertainment/technology attorney, as an outside special counsel.

Handel, who covered the labor beat at The Hollywood Reporter for the past decade, will work on special projects and cutting-edge issues.

SAG-AFTRA chief operating officer and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said, “We are thrilled to have Jonathan working with SAG-AFTRA and look forward to engaging his talents on a number of crucial issues and projects. He is an accomplished and forward-thinking attorney with a talent for incisive analysis, which coupled with his entertainment industry expertise perfectly positions him to help advise on complex matters for the union.”

Handel recently left his post at THR but will continue to practice entertainment and technology law for other clients that do not conflict with SAG-AFTRA assignments. As part of the agreement to engage Handel, the union is also acquiring an app that he wrote to help members navigate their health insurance options. SAG-AFTRA’s health plan, which is administered by trustees of the union and the studios, is facing backlash from members over increases in eligibility requirements.

“This is a time of enormous economic and technological challenge for all SAG-AFTRA members,” said Handel. “Working- and middle-class people are under assault in this country, and our industries are no different. I’m excited and grateful to have the opportunity to help tackle some of the toughest problems ever faced by the union’s members – many of whom I have the privilege to call friends – and I hope to make an enduring contribution to their careers, well-being and basic dignity.”

SAG-AFTRA reps about 160,000 performers. Handel is on the adjunct faculty at USC Gould School of Law and Southwestern Law School and is a non-resident research fellow at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations’ Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing.