SAG-AFTRA Presidency: Esai Morales to Oppose Ken Howard (Updated)

Board member will oppose the current co-president, who was an architect of the merger

Actor Esai Morales joined the race for president of SAG-AFTRA Thursday, and will oppose the union’s current co-president Ken Howard, who also has thrown his hat in the ring.

"We're in the process of filling out the papers and making the proper filings now," his repsentative told TheWrap Thursday.

Morales, currently appearing in the new Starz series “Magic City,” is a national board member. The newly-merged union holds its first combined election in July.

SAG’s Howard and AFTRA’s Roberta Reardon have been co-presidents since March of last year, when members approved the merger of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Getty ImagesThe deadline for filing is Friday. Ballots for the national, Los Angeles and New York elections will go out July 16 and the deadline for their return is Aug. 15. The president, secretary-treasurer and the majority of the board seats will be filled.

Also read: SAG-AFTRA Overwhelmingly Ratifies 3-Year Commercials Contract

Both Howard and Reardon were ardent merger advocates, and the last presidents elected by their respective organizations. Howard was first elected SAG President in 2009, and re-elected in 2011. He captured roughly 75% of the 23,459 votes cast, with around 23% of the members voting in 2011.

SAG-AFTRA members last month ratified a three-year commercials contract last month with 96% support among the 13% of the members who voted. It was the first major negotiated since the merger and covers about  $1 billion in annual earnings.

The union's contract with the studios and networks that covers feature films and primetime TV, expires roughly a year from now. Dates for those talks have not been set, but the union will begin work on its its wages and working conditions proposal soon.