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Howard’s Election Brings SAG/AFTRA Merge Closer

Says the first item on his agenda will be to meet with leaders of other guilds, notably AFTRA’s Reardon.

Results from Thursday’s Screen Actors Guild elections put the moderate Unite for Strength coalition of the Guild in a dominant position, with Ken Howard winning the presidency, the party winning overall and Amy Aquino taking over as secretary treasurer.

Howard captured 12,895 votes, 47 percent of the 27,295 valid ballots casts.


Rival Membership First candidate Anne-Marie Johnson garnered 8,906 votes. Independent candidate Seymour Cassel had 4,838 votes.

In addition to capturing four more national board seats and 17 of the 21 Hollywood-division board seats that were up for grabs, the moderates also dominated the New York division races, with Mike Hodge winning the regional presidency and his coalition sweeping all 13 board seats that were up.

"Our whole team won today," Hodge told TheWrap. "We understand that we have a mandate."

For his part, Howard worked to strike a cooperative tone for a Guild that has been badly fractured of late and at odds with other organizations, including AFTRA and the DGA.

"This is not the kind of result that anyone should refer to as a referendum," he said. "My main issue we have is to arrive at some sort of unity within the Screen Actors Guild."


Howard said the first item on his agenda will be to meet with leaders of the other entertainment guilds, notably AFTRA president Roberta Rearson.

"We need to start talking about ways in which we can publicly display unity," he said.


Thursday’s SAG election — which pitted the pragmatist Howard against the less moderate Johnson, as well as independents Cassel and Asmar Muhammad — will go a long way toward determining whether the traditionally go-it-alone labor union will finally merge with the more heterogeneously structured AFTRA.
With clout for the 76-year-old SAG weakened by a $4 million deficit and internal infighting — punctuated by the United for Strength-led overthrow of guild chief negotiator Doug Allen in January — both Howard and Johnson had stated that is the right time for a merger with the smaller AFTRA (70,000 members compared to SAG’s 125,000), given that more landmark new media negotiations with the producers union are coming up in 2011.
Johnson’s Membership First coalition, however has only been interested in a merger that involves the 44,000 or so members the two guilds have in common.

Two times in recent years, SAG membership voting has put a stop to advanced efforts made to put the two guilds together. Both times, SAG’s base of primarily film and TV actors voted to keep AFTRA’s more diverse constituency of newscasters, radio deejays, recording engineers and other non-thespian members out of their union.
Ballots were mailed to 99,485 paid-up SAG members on Aug. 25, and 27,295 were tabulated Thursday, for a return of 27 percent.The National Board members elected  will assume office on Sept. 25 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: Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, Elliott Gould, Ed Asner, Anne-Marie Johnson, Connie Stevens, Diane Ladd, Dulé 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 of Directors (all one-year terms). Gabrielle Carteris, Jenny O’Hara, Michael O’Keefe, Clyde Kusatsu, Dawnn Lewis, Doug Savant, Michelle Allsopp, Alan Rosenberg, 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: Sharon Washington, Monica Trombetta, Sam Freed and Liz Zazzi (all three-year terms). Additionally, New York Division members elected Mike Hodge as NY Division President.

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: John Carter Brown (Chicago — three-year term), David Hartley-Margolin (Colorado — three-year term), Dave Corey (Florida — three-year term), Scott Rogers (Hawaii — three-year term), Helen McNutt (Philadelphia — three-year term), Mary McDonald-Lewis (Portland — three-year term), Don Ahles (San Diego — three-year term).