SAG-AFTRA Presidential Candidate Matthew Modine Faults Guild’s ‘Foolish’ Handling of Health Plan

”The members deserve better,“ the ”Stranger Things“ star tells TheWrap

It has been two years since actor Matthew Modine lost his campaign for president of SAG-AFTRA, but his criticism of guild head Gabrielle Carteris has only become more pointed.

In an interview with TheWrap, Modine criticized the outgoing president as well as recently departed National Executive Director David White for their handling of the guild’s health plan. Over the past year, Membership First, Modine’s caucus within SAG-AFTRA, has spoken out about the decision made by the health plan trustees to increase the minimum earnings requirement to qualify for the plan and to no longer count residuals toward that requirement.

SAG-AFTRA has created a health care market to allow the thousands of retirees who would no longer receive coverage to find replacement Medicare supplement plans and set up informational meetings under Carteris’ direction to let members know about the changes. The plan trustees have maintained that the cuts were necessary to maintain financial solvency for the plan amidst rising healthcare costs nationwide.

But former SAG president Ed Asner and nine other senior guild members filed a lawsuit in December against White and the health plan trustees. Modine said that he has made the health plan the centerpiece of his campaign because “a core function of our union is to provide health care to all our members fortunate enough to find work and meet the earnings requirements to qualify.”

Carteris is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit as she not a trustee of the health plan and does not have direct influence over the plan’s finances, but Modine still placed blame on guild leadership for not providing advance notice to members of the plan’s financial problems. “It magnifies the absolute lack of transparency and foolish secrecy which is dismantling the basic foundational principles of our union,” he said. “The members deserve better.”

Modine also criticized Carteris’ implementation of intimacy coordinators, a new position on film and TV sets tasked with maintaining consent and upholding guild regulations regarding sex scenes. The creation and planned expansion of a network of intimacy coordinators has been touted by Carteris as one of her proudest achievements as president, but Modine said that the guild should have mandated their use as part of the bargaining agreement with studios.

Carteris and her team have said that language regarding intimacy coordinators was not included in the 2019 contract because there were not enough certified coordinators at the time to cover all productions that needed them at any given moment. The guild has since established qualification requirements for coordinators, with the goal of having 60 to 70 certified intimacy coordinators available by the end of the year.

Modine is campaigning against “The Nanny” star and LGBT activist Fran Drescher, who is running with Carteris’ Unite For Strength caucus and has Carteris’ endorsement. Ballots will be mailed on August 3 and tabulated on September 2.

Read the full email interview with Modine below. The interview has been edited for clarity.

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • • Twitter: @jeremyfuster