Membership First announced its new slate for the upcoming fall elections to the Screen Actors Guild National Board. Topping the slate is Keith Carradine (of Nashville fame), who would be a newcomer to the board.
One third of the Board’s 71 seats are up for election. Particularly important are the 11 seats representing Hollywood. A shift in power of a few of those seats would lead to a change in control of the Guild itself.
So far no indication that the Membership First slate, which has been in power for three years, plans any change in strategy so it is a little unclear what their team will campaign on. As of this weekend, as the current SAG National Board convenes for a meeting, the contract talks with the Producers have stalled completely with no sign of a strategy to move them forward.
Membership First is up against a new slate proposed by a group led by Ned Vaughn and Amy Brenneman called Unite For Strength which has put “Unity” forward as a theme for the Guild including a return to discussions with AFTRA about merger. This is in contrast to the “go it alone” strategy put in place last year by the current Guild leadership put in power by the incumbent Membership First party.
This L.A. Times article notes that the Guild and the Producers remain far apart in contract talks particularly on the new media environment.
The current AMPTP proposal, if accurately described in the media, triggers union coverage at a certain dollar budget threshold and below that threshold triggers union coverage if a so-called “covered” performer is part of the production. It also allows the Guild to unionize a new production via a union election.
The challenge is mustering the leverage to strengthen that approach. The other three talent guilds have agreed already to this approach based, in part, on the political capital gained during the 100 day WGA strike in which actors participated quite visibly.
SAG, under Membership First, chose to break its longstanding coordinated bargaining strategy with AFTRA in order to proceed independently but have now ended up last in line with no deal.
Thus, the election contest will likely also be a kind of referendum about the success or lack thereof of the strategy implemented by Membership First.