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September 25, 2009

SAG Election Results are in!

SAG elects Ken Howard president
Amy Aquino chosen as secretary-treasurer
By Jay A. Fernandez

Sept 24, 2009, 10:24 PM ET

Updated: Sept 24, 2009, 11:10 PM ET
There are surely more conflicts to come, but the Screen Actors Guild membership on Thursday night settled a big one: Ken Howard has been elected the union’s new national president.

Running mate Amy Aquino beat two-time incumbent Connie Stevens in the race for secretary-treasurer. Howard and Aquino will serve two-year terms beginning Friday.

For the moment, at least, the outcomes indicate that a winning 47.2% of the voting segment of SAG’s roughly 120,000 members prefers the less strident approach of the self-styled moderate wing of the party represented by Unite for Strength.

Howard collected 12,895 votes, or 3,989 more than MembershipFirst candidate Anne-Marie Johnson, who received 32.6% of the 27,295 votes cast. Independents Seymour Cassel and Asmar Muhammad garnered 17.7% and 1.5%, respectively, in their bid for the presidency.

UFS came together last year in opposition and in January led a boardroom coup at SAG, installed new negotiators and salvaged a deal with Hollywood producers nearly a year after sister union AFTRA had ratified its own contract. Johnson is part of a separate coalition, Membership First, that was shunted to the board’s minority and saw its leader, president Alan Rosenberg, muzzled on most official guild business.

Howard, who picked up an acting Emmy on Sunday for his role in HBO’s “Grey Gardens,” campaigned on bringing a more collaborative approach to relationships with AFTRA, the DGA and WGA. Segments of those groups were alienated by the often-heated rhetoric of Rosenberg and 1st national vp Johnson.

“I campaigned on the promise that I’d do everything in my power to strengthen our position at the bargaining table by building a greater unity with AFTRA and the other entertainment unions, and that’s exactly what I intend to do,” Howard said. “Despite the sharp differences that those of us active in guild affairs sometimes have over strategy and tactics, we need to continually remind ourselves that we’re all on the same team, fighting for the same thing — and by pulling together, we’ll only grow stronger.”

UFS expanded the narrow majority it established on the 71-member national board in the September 2008 elections. The next Hollywood board meeting with newly seated members is scheduled for Oct. 5.

In concert with the national result, Mike Hodge was elected president of SAG’s New York branch, succeeding Sam Freed, who passed the moderate baton to his fellow United Screen Actors Nationwide member.

Hodge defeated Mitchell Green, a SAGNOW partisan affiliated with the more hard-line MembershipFirst faction. USAN, which is affiliated with UFS, has dominated SAG politics in New York in the recent past.

The results seem to reflect an industrywide fatigue resulting from the 2007-08 writers strike and the protracted SAG contract negotiations that ended in June. Last week, the WGA elected John Wells to the top slot over the more hard-line Writers United candidate Elias Davis. The rest of the WGA officers, however, were split with Writers United.

Among the immediate challenges facing Howard are retention of coverage of network pilots and the next round of negotiations for a new TV-theatrical contract. As part of the last deal, SAG agreed to start seven weeks of bargaining with the AMPTP as early as October 2010.

Additionally, the shifting economic and labor landscape has resulted in a looming decrease in benefits and increase in premiums beginning in January as a result of investment losses and decreased employer contributions. The damaged pension and health benefits situation became a political hot potato during the campaign.

Mending fences with sister unions DGA, WGA and AFTRA is a high priority for Howard as well. AFTRA members re-elected Roberta Reardon to the presidency in early August. As a UFS candidate, Howard preached the benefit of a collective approach with AFTRA and its roughly 70,000 members in negotiations with the studios and networks, an approach that was abandoned by the previous SAG regime.

The presence of Cassel in the election surely cost Johnson some votes, since he also remains a stalwart MembershipFirst partisan. Cassel narrowly lost to Rosenberg in the 2007 election, but he was dinged by an internal sexual harassment case against him that became public during this most recent campaign.

The National Board members elected Thursday will assume office Friday for terms of three years.

SAG’s Hollywood Division elected 11 National Board members; the New York division elected four National Board members; and seven National Board members were elected from the union’s branches in Chicago, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Philadelphia, Portland and San Diego.

National Board members elected from the Hollywood Division in addition to Sheen, Harris, Johnson, Stevens and Ladd were Elliott Gould, Ed Asner, Dule Hill, Hill Harper, Nancy Travis and Marcia Wallace (all three-year terms).

The following were elected to serve as National Board alternates and to the Hollywood division board (all one-year terms): Rosenberg, Gabrielle Carteris, Jenny O’Hara, Michael O’Keefe, Clyde Kusatsu, Dawnn Lewis, Doug Savant, Michelle Allsopp, D.W. Moffett, Joe Bologna, Robert Hays, Jason George, L. Scott Caldwell, Clark Gregg, Patrick Fabian, Bill Smitrovich, Ellen Crawford, Stacey Travis, Mandy Steckelberg, Renee Taylor, Bernie Casey and John Carroll Lynch.

National Board members elected from the New York division: Freed, Sharon Washington, Monica Trombetta and Liz Zazzi (all three-year terms).

The following were elected to serve as national board alternates and to the New York division board of directors (all one-year terms): Manny Alfaro, Sheila Head, Marc Baron, Joe Narciso, Jay Potter, Dave Bachman, John Rothman, Kevin Scullin and Justin Barrett.

National Board members elected from the Regional Branch division, all with three-year terms: John Carter Brown (Chicago), David Hartley-Margolin (Colorado), Dave Corey (Florida), Scott Rogers (Hawaii), Helen McNutt (Philadelphia), Mary McDonald-Lewis (Portland) and Don Ahles (San Diego).

Ballots for all eligible SAG members in Hollywood and New York were mailed on Aug. 25.


September 8, 2009

A Message from Ken Howard

Subject: A message from Ken Howard

Fellow Hollywood SAG Members,

The most important question in this election is this: What steps must we take to strengthen the Screen Actors Guild and make sure we can negotiate the best possible contracts? I’ve described very clearly what I think the answer is. We need to build close relationships with all our fellow entertainment unions and approach future contract negotiations as a united front. Most critically, the two unions representing performers in our industry must work together as one. The surest way to achieve that is by merging SAG and AFTRA into one powerful national union.

Please go to; and you’ll see important video messages from Tom Hanks, William H. Macy, and Felicity Huffman explaining why they – along with Sally Field, Tony Shalhoub, Hector Elizondo and so many other SAG members – agree with me.

My opponent, Anne-Marie Johnson, sees it differently. She and her group, Membership First, chose to fight with AFTRA heading into last year’s TV/Theatrical negotiations, and it cost us terribly:

    – SAG members lost tens of millions of dollars in increases and countless job opportunities during a ten month contract stalemate.

    – SAG covered only 10% of the 2009 TV pilots.

    – Lower revenues led to a 2-year budget deficit of $10 million, requiring 8% of SAG’s staff to be fired.

    – Reduced earnings meant fewer members qualified for SAG health insurance and pension credits.

    – Lower earnings contributed to the need for major changes to SAG’s pension and health plans, which will take effect in January, including higher health insurance premiums and deductibles, and a lower pension accrual rate.

With results like these, it’s no surprise that Anne-Marie Johnson and Membership First are now trying to sound like they embrace the idea of working together with AFTRA. But what you hear them saying may be very different from what they mean.

    – They say they want “all performers in one union”… but they steadfastly oppose merger, the obvious way to accomplish that.

– They say SAG should “share services” with AFTRA… but they want to immediately end the legal agreement that prohibits SAG and AFTRA from publicly attacking each other.

– They say SAG and AFTRA must negotiate together in 2010… but Ms. Johnson pledges her first act if elected would be to ask performers who are members of both unions to choose between them. Is she suggesting that SAG should raid AFTRA’s membership? That would be ruinous.

We CANNOT afford to go back to the go-it-alone approach of Anne-Marie Johnson, Connie Stevens, and Membership First. Unite for Strength is dedicated to protecting the future for actors. If you agree that SAG is made stronger by working in partnership with our fellow entertainment unions, please vote for me, Amy Aquino, and all the Unite for Strength board candidates.


Ken Howard


September 1, 2009

Info about SAG candidates

More than 70 percent of us SAG members across these United States voted to ratify the t.v./theatrical contract.  That contract represents the work of the Unite for Strength board members.  We supported them then – let’s support them now.

Presidential candidate Ken Howard and Secretary Treasurer candidate Amy Aquino are a powerful duo.  Sober of thought, experienced beyond measure, and they have a real, personal stake in the welfare of the union and the contracts.  

Anne Marie Johnson is running for SAG president – I find it simply galling.  I was struck by the mailer that MF sent round… It refers to Anne Marie’s dedication to Screen Actors Guild, its members, and “unionism.”

The card fails to mention her current ongoing lawsuit against her own Guild that has cost our members $171,000 (and counting) or her disparagement of a sister union which may very well result in SAG paying a hefty fine.

Your ballot is either in your mail, in the hands of your business manager, or perhaps you have already sent it in.  

Please this opportunity to VOTE UNITE FOR STRENGTH.  Please vote the entire SLATE.

July 24, 2009

Ken Howard for SAG President?

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 10:47 am
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UFS Announces Ken Howard as Candidate for SAG President
Amy Aquino
to run for Secretary-Treasurer,
33 others for Board of Directors on UFS slate

Unite for Strength today announced Ken Howard as its candidate for Screen Actors Guild President, and Amy Aquino as its candidate for Secretary-Treasurer in Guild elections to be held this September.  Unite for Strength will also field 33 candidates from the Hollywood Division for seats on the Board of Directors.  A current Emmy nominee for HBO’s Grey Gardens, Ken Howard’s career began on stage but has encompassed four decades of starring roles on television and regular feature film work. The Tony and Emmy Award winning actor was elected on the Unite for Strength slate to SAG’s National Board in 2008 and currently chairs the National Seniors committee.  Amy Aquino is a veteran performer with a decade of previous Guild service as Vice President and Board member.  A graduate of Harvard University and the Yale School of Drama, she’s a ubiquitous television presence who has also worked consistently on stage and in film for over 20 years. 

Presidential candidate Ken Howard said: “This election offers members a stark choice between two leadership approaches – attempt to go it alone or unite for strength.  From 2005 through 2008, SAG experienced the divisive, go-it-alone approach of Membership First.  They went to war with AFTRA, sought to marginalize New York and the branches, and repeatedly alienated other entertainment unions.  Under Membership First’s leadership, SAG failed to successfully negotiate a single contract in 2008, which cost our members tens of millions of dollars. To make matters worse, it caused producers to take most new television production to AFTRA, resulting in still more lost work and benefits for SAG members.

“With increasing consolidation of media companies and new technologies transforming our business, we will pay dearly if we’re not smart and strategic about our future.  I’m running for president as a Unite for Strength candidate because I believe the only way actors will get our fair share of the pie is if we’re united both internally and with our labor partners.  If SAG members elect me and my fellow Unite for Strength candidates, we’ll make a clean break with the divisive leadership approach of Membership First and focus on building maximum unity with AFTRA and other entertainment guilds to give us real power when we sit down to negotiate contracts.”

Amy Aquino said: “The go-it-alone approach has wreaked havoc not only on members’ livelihoods, but on the Guild itself.  The actions of Membership First have seriously weakened SAG financially, saddling us with a $6.5 million deficit. Their year-long delay in negotiating the TV/Theatrical contract, their fight with AFTRA, and other reckless decisions have caused deep-rooted fiscal damage. UFS has begun to address this crisis by resolving SAG’s two major contracts and supporting measures to streamline Guild operations. Going forward, we’ll continue to make SAG’s financial health a top priority.”

Unite for Strength board candidate Ned Vaughn said: “The failures of Membership First’s go-it-alone approach are so obvious that even they are now talking about the need to bring SAG and AFTRA actors into one union.  Even if they’re sincere, the damage they’ve done to our relationship with AFTRA makes it impossible for them to lead any effort to build unity.  As the DGA’s response to Alan Rosenberg’s call for a union summit makes plain, Membership First has a poisonous relationship with other entertainment guilds as well.  For SAG members who believe we need stronger alliances with other unions, Unite for Strength is the clear choice in this election.”

The 33 candidates running on the Unite for Strength slate for seats on the national Board of Directors include incumbent Hollywood Division Board members:  Vaughn, L. Scott Caldwell, Gabrielle Carteris, Assaf Cohen, Tim DeKay, Dule Hill, Clyde Kusatsu, Marcia Wallace, Doug Savant, William Smitrovich, Richard Speight, and Stacey Travis.  Joining them on the slate will be actors Michelle Allsopp, Christian Clemenson, Ellen Crawford, Patrick Fabian, Richard Fancy, Jason George, Clark Gregg, Hill Harper, Gregory Itzin, David Lawrence, Dawnn Lewis, John Carroll Lynch, D.W. Moffett, Jenny O’Hara, Michael O’Keefe, Mandy Steckelberg, Amir Talai, and Nancy Travis, as well as background and motion capture artist Woody Schultz, voice actor Bob Bergen, and stuntman/coordinator Conrad Palmisano.

About Unite for Strength
Unite for Strength was formed last year by Hollywood Screen Actors Guild members concerned that SAG’s leadership was sowing division among performers and isolating the Guild, weakening its position in contract negotiations.  Unite for Strength organizers were especially concerned with the Guild’s repeated attacks on AFTRA, which resulted in the two unions negotiating the TV/Theatrical contract separately for the first time in over 25 years.  In September 2008, a group of Unite for Strength members ran for the board of directors, with 5 winning election to the National Board and 13 to the Hollywood Division Board.

As board members, they called for a more unifying and strategic leadership approach, but these calls were rejected by Membership First officers and directors.  By year’s end, those leaders had failed to successfully negotiate any of SAG’s expired contracts up for renewal in 2008, including the all-important TV/Theatrical contract.  With SAG losing new television production to AFTRA and film production slowed due to the lack of a contract, UFS representatives joined with board members from New York and across the country to form a new majority coalition and take control of the TV/Theatrical and Commercials contract negotiations.  Working jointly with AFTRA, this coalition led SAG in negotiating a new Commercials contract that was ratified by a landslide 94% vote.  Three weeks later, a new TV/Theatrical contract was approved by members nearly 4 to 1 (78%-22%) with a record voting turnout.

June 4, 2009

Make Your Voice Heard This Week (June 1, 2009)

SAG TV/Theatrical Contract Just like your National Board and negotiators, Tom Hanks believes the TV/Theatrical tentative agreement is a smart deal and a pro-active move for SAG members. Please go to to see a short video of Tom explaining why he voted YES. You can also view other newly added videos (including this one on protecting your future in New Media: ) and sign the TV/Theatrical Statement of Support which can be found at: . If you haven’t voted yet, please find your ballot, VOTE YES, and mail it right away. The June 9th deadline is approaching fast, and every vote counts. If you believe it is time for SAG to move forward, YOU must act – don’t leave this crucial decision to others. Make sure your vote arrives in time to be counted. Ballots should be mailed NO LATER than June 6th. AFTRA Board Elections AFTRA members: your board election ballots must be mailed TODAY – the deadline is 9AM Wednesday, June 3rd. UFS urges you to vote for the candidates of the AFTRA Leadership Team. For more information and a complete voting guide, go to MPTF Rally TODAY Hollywood members: There is a rally Monday June 1st in Woodland Hills from 4:30 – 8:00 PM to support efforts to keep the Motion Picture Television Fund long-term nursing care facility open. The planned closure of the facility has caused deep concern throughout the entertainment community, and this rally is a valuable opportunity to make your voice heard. For more information and full details visit: . – UNITE FOR STRENGTH – Want to support a YES vote on the SAG TV/Th contract? By volunteering just a couple of hours as a phone bank caller, you can help spread the word about the importance of voting YES. Volunteers are needed now through Jun. 5, so please contact SAG right away if you can help. Call Nayla Wren at 323-549-6592 or Jackie Perez at 323-549-6894 or email with the subject ‘Volunteer.’

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