Gabrielle Carteris’ Unite for Strength Condemns ‘Baseless’ SAG-AFTRA Election Complaints

Spokesperson for guild president’s slate calls federal complaint by Matthew Modine’s campaign manager “yet more poor judgment and destructive behavior”

Last Updated: October 24, 2019 @ 5:18 PM

Unite for Strength, the SAG-AFTRA slate led by guild president Gabrielle Carteris, released a statement on Thursday condemning the federal complaints filed by supporters of Matthew Modine, who was defeated by Carteris in last month’s election.

Carteris handily won the guild election with 13,537 votes compared to Modine’s 10,682 votes. But the federal complaints, if found to be valid by Labor Dept. investigators, could force SAG-AFTRA to throw out the results and hold a new election.

The statement specifically singled out the latest complaint filed to the U.S. Department of Labor by Modine’s campaign manager, Adam Nelson, calling it “yet more poor judgment and destructive behavior,” on behalf of Modine’s Membership First slate.

“It’s both astonishing and deeply distressing that Membership First continues to ignore decades of legal precedent, and remains committed to flagrantly wasting the hard-earned dues money of working class SAG-AFTRA members,” read the statement.

“This kind of partisan whining and clear commitment to dragging SAG-AFTRA through the mud, is exactly why Matthew Modine and his Membership First faction was roundly defeated across the country.”

Nelson’s complaint alleged that Unite For Strength violated Title IV of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, which outlines labor laws concerning union elections. Nelson, along with other Membership First supporters who have filed federal complaints, say that Carteris broke election regulations.  by appearing in an episode of “BH90210” aired during the election period in which she plays the head of a fictional actors’ union. The complaint calls the episode a “blatant national commercial.”

Nelson’s complaint also addresses a video loop screened in the guild’s common areas during the election that  “predominantly” featured Carteris and actors that were running alongside her as part of the Unite For Strength slate while skipping actors running with Membership First. He argues that the “tone, timing and content” of the video proves that it served as an illegal ad for UFS candidates.

But UFS maintains that SAG-AFTRA’s national election committee has upheld the election results and found Membership First’s protests to be without basis. While Nelson has accused the board of choosing to “turn a blind eye” to the accusations, UFS maintains that the committee has remained nonpartisan, pointing out that it was unanimously approved by the guild’s national board, which includes Membership First members.

“In fact, the only proven violations of SAG-AFTRA election law were committed by Membership First,” said UFS, bringing up claims against Membership First that were made during the election period.

“A duly appointed election committee in New Orleans found that their brazen election violations indeed warranted a rerun of the election: “We conclude that there were improper employer contributions made that benefited the NOLA Slate for Change, that these contributions violated the Election Policy and federal law, and that the violations may have affected the outcome of the election.”

“If it weren’t so harmful, it would be comical that Membership First and Adam Nelson refuse to accept the law when their own use of illegal campaign contributions through multiple NYFA videos–which received tens of thousands of impressions–were  indeed additional violations of federal law.”

The UFS statement also levels criticisms at Modine himself, saying that he was still elected to the guild’s national board despite losing the presidency but was not present at board meetings or at this month’s National Convention.

“We refuse to let a small group of sore losers distract us from the important work of protecting and enhancing the lives and careers of our members.”

Read the full statement from UFS below:

It’s both astonishing and deeply distressing that Membership First continues to ignore decades of legal precedent, and remains committed to flagrantly wasting the hard-earned dues money of working class SAG-AFTRA members. This kind of partisan whining and clear commitment to dragging SAG-AFTRA through the mud, is exactly why Matthew Modine and his Membership First faction was roundly defeated across the country.

This baseless distraction harms our membership, and attempts to prevent us from doing the vital work members elected their leadership to do.

This is yet more poor judgment and destructive behavior from Membership First’s publicist Adam Nelson, who repeatedly liked and retweeted a death threat against President Carteris.

Let’s be clear, the elections committee is made up of 100% nonpartisan members, and was unanimously approved by the National Board, including Membership First board members.

This nonpartisan committee, through extensive consultation with outside legal counsel, has definitively concluded, “we dismiss all the post-election protests.” 

In fact, the only proven violations of SAG-AFTRA election law were committed by Membership First, as demonstrated by the ruling in NOLA. A duly appointed election committee in New Orleans found that their brazen election violations indeed warranted a rerun of the election: “We conclude that there were improper employer contributions made that benefited the NOLA Slate for Change, that these contributions violated the Election Policy and federal law, and that the violations may have affected the outcome of the election.” 

If it weren’t so harmful, it would be comical that Membership First and Adam Nelson refuse to accept the law when their own use of illegal campaign contributions through multiple NYFA videos–which received tens of thousands of impressions–were  indeed additional violations of federal law.

SAG-AFTRA members are helped not through frivolous legal complaints, but by volunteer leaders actually showing up and doing the work. While Matthew Modine was rejected as our union’s president, he was elected to the Local and National Boards. And yet, he has already failed to attend even the first Local Board meeting, the first two National Board meetings, and was equally absent from the entire four-day National Convention.

We refuse to let a small group of sore losers distract us from the important work of protecting and enhancing the lives and careers of our members.

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