Friday, September 25, 2009

SAG Moderates Win Presidency, and More!

From The Digital Media Law blog by Jonathan Handel

In a victory for the SAG moderate coalition (Unite for Strength / USAN / independents), the UFS candidates for president, Ken Howard, and secretary, Amy Aquino, won the union's national offices.

However, the election was close: Howard's total was slightly less than the two hardline candidates added together (Anne-Marie Johnson and Seymour Cassel) and Aquino's was slightly more than that of incumbent Connie Stevens. So the union is still very divided, and Howard acknowledged that the results were not a landslide and that the union is very divided, while saying that he planned to reach out to MF supporters.

On the national board, the moderates showed strength as well: They picked up 4 of 11 seats in Hollywood and held all of the NY and regional (RBD) seats. I estimate that this brings the moderate's board majority to around 60%, vs. 40% for MF, but that's a very rough calculation and I'm not sure at this point.

On the Hollywood board, the results were more dramatic: 21 of 33 Hollywood board seats went to the moderates. Added to the 6 they (and independents) already control, that's 27 out of 55 - just shy of 50%.

UFS spokesman Ned Vaughn said he expected to see SAG and AFTRA jointly negotiating wih the studios next year. Howard said he'd reach out to AFTRA and the other guids. On the subject of merger with AFTRA, Howard disputed claims from 6 years ago that merger would hurt SAG members' pensions.

The challenge for the moderates is to build a record of accomplishment, hire David White on a permanent basis, build relations with AFTRA and other guilds/unions, pick up more seats in next years' July-Sept elections, then go into negotiations with the studios Oct. 1 (2010, i.e., next year). After that - work on merger. A tough road ahead.