Having already put a majority on the Screen Actors Guild national board, the moderate Unite For Strength faction has now elected one of its own, Ken Howard, as SAG President. He will succeed Alan Rosenberg, who had opposed the contract the union struck this year with the Hollywood studios.
“I am deeply honored to be chosen by the membership to lead the Screen Actors Guild,” said Howard. “I campaigned on the promise that I’d do everything in my power to strengthen our position at the bargaining table by building a greater unity with AFTRA and the other entertainment unions, and that’s exactly what I intend to do. Despite the sharp differences that those of us active in Guild affairs sometimes have over strategy and tactics, we need to continually remind ourselves that we’re all on the same team, fighting for the same thing — and by pulling together, we’ll only grow stronger,” he said.
Here’s the official tally from SAG: Ballots were mailed to 99,485 paid-up SAG members on August 25, and 27,295 were tabulated Thursday, September 24, for a return of 27.44%. For the office of president of the union, Ken Howard received 12,895 votes, with Anne-Marie Johnson (Rosenberg’s successor in heading the MembershipFirst ticket) coming in second with 8,906 votes, Seymour Cassel got 4,838 votes, and Asmar Muhammad received 402 votes.
The Unite For Strength candidate, Amy Aquino, was elected secretary-treasurer, defeating Connie Stevens, the candidate of MembershipFirst.
It was quite a week of victories for Ken Howard. On Sunday (9/20) he won a Emmy for his role in HBO’s “Grey Gardens.” Four days later he won the SAG presidency.
As for the losing side, here’s some of what Johnson had to say on the MembershipFirst blog: “It was a tough race and I believe we ran a very smart and respective campaign. Unfortunately we did not secure the seats we thought we would. There are no sour grapes here.
I am getting a ton of calls and emails from members truly disappointed about the decision made by Mr. Cassel to run. I’d be lying if I didn’t take a look at the final results and contemplate what would have happened if Mr. Cassel had not thrown his hat into the race. But he did. He had every right to run no matter what his true agenda was,” she wrote.
While she won’t be heading SAG, Johnson was recently elected to the national board of AFTRA. MembershipFirst has targeted AFTRA to attempt to make it a more radical union, as SAG was during the time that Rosenberg and his associates had control of SAG.
RBR-TVBR observation: The internal battling at SAG may die down a bit, but the studios should not assume that they’ll be dealing with lapdogs in the next round of contract negotiations. It was a national board dominated by the moderate faction that voted 73% to 27% to reject a contract offer where the studios tried to slip through language that would have kept SAG from being able to coordinate with other Hollywood unions. That resounding “no” came even as the union membership had wearied of the long contract stalemate and voted out the radical element that had been unable to come to an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).