SAG-AFTRA Ready for Its Close-Up With First Combined Convention

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti will kick off 5-day event, which will also feature the U.S. Labor Secretary and head of AFL-CIO

More than a year and half after the merger, the combined SAG-AFTRA is hosting its coming-out party this weekend.

More than 350 delegates, labor leaders and guests will be on hand for the first SAG-AFTRA convention, which kicks off Wednesday night at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Los Angeles with a reception that L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti will attend.

U.S Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka top the weekend’s list of scheduled speakers.

With the theme of United for Our Future, the five-day event brings together national officers and board members, local presidents and members from around the country to discuss and decide on items vital to the future of the union. In addition to 14 panels and six workshops, the convention will also see the formal installation of the union’s new governance structure, which includes an 80-member national board that will meet for the first time Monday.

Most of the board spots were determined in last month’s national elections, at which president Ken Howard defeated challenger Esai Morales. An executive vice-president, either Gabrielle Carteris of Los Angeles or Mike Hodge of New York, will be chosen at the convention, along with seven other vice-presidents.

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The AFL-CIO’s chief Trumka will deliver the keynote speech on Thursday morning, after which the convention will kick into high gear with the vote on the VP positions later that day.

Among the weekend’s scheduled events:

>> A special keynote panel session, “Conversations From the Leading Edge,” will be held on Friday and feature industry leaders discussing how to deal with the industry’s rapid changes in technology and business models. Keyvan Peymani, head of digital at ICM, will moderate a panel that includes Terry City, West Coast vice-president at Buzzfeed; Thania Guardino, marketing and accounts exec, Somo Mobile Ltd., Greg Siegel, sr. vice-president of entertainment development, Break Media; and D.A. Wallach, recording artist and artist-in-residence at Spotify.

>> Friday afternoon, union leaders will unveil and discuss SAG-AFTRA’s study on sexual orientation and gender identity diversity. That evening will feature a dinner and the American Scene Awards presentations, hosted by “Entertainment Tonight” host Mary Hart and a musical performance by Dorian Holley.

Also read: ‘Secret Life of the American Teenager’ Honored by SAG-AFTRA for Diversity

>> Labor Secretary Perez’s address will open Saturday sessions and the convention will conclude with the members taking up several issues on the floor.

Among the items that will be discussed are the potential merging of the SAG and AFTRA pension plans, next year’s negotiations with the studios and TV networks and the suit against the union filed by Ed Asner and other members alleging under-payments on foreign residuals.

SAG-AFTRA represents more than 165,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voice-over artists and other entertainment and media professionals.