SAG-AFTRA has set up a national committee dedicated to the prevention of sexual harassment at work. “SAG-AFTRA has always been committed to ending sexual harassment,” said Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA. “But now more than ever, we are officially declaring the death of the ‘cast’. This newly formed national committee is another way to work towards this goal. “
“As a sexual assault survivor,” she said, “I want to make sure that we can do whatever we can to protect our members and make them feel safe. in their workplace, both physically and mentally. This is the time and place for zero tolerance for any action that degrades or targets women and men of all ages who simply want to do a good job for their employers in a safe and respectful environment.
Michelle Hurd, the union’s national vice-president, will be the national chair of the Sexual Harassment Prevention Committee, which was established by a national council resolution on Saturday. “Michelle has been a dedicated leader within our union, particularly advocating for ways to prevent sexual harassment – most recently championing our sexual harassment reporting app,” said Drescher. “I have no doubts that with Michelle at the helm, we will eliminate this insidious behavior once and for all.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said, “The creation of a standing standing committee is an important step in our long-term strategic plan to protect our members from harassment and sexual abuse. Vice-President Michelle Hurd will no doubt lead this group to explore new and creative ways for our union and our industry to end long-standing practices of harassment and abuse.
The new national committee is taking over the work of the existing working group on the prevention of sexual harassment. In recent years, the union has adopted numerous measures to prevent harassment and sexual assault in the industry, including a code of conduct; codify contractual language that prohibits inappropriate private meetings in hotel rooms and personal residences; develop ‘Safe Place’ reporting platforms so members can quickly and discreetly report sexual harassment, and partner with intimacy coordinators to standardize the profession while helping to change the culture on sets when scenes of nude and intimacy are played.
In its President’s report, Drescher briefed the Board of Directors on her recent meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris. Drescher led a delegation of SAG-AFTRA officials to Washington, DC, where they met White House staff “to discuss creating a long-term partnership.” They also met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Representatives Judy Chu and Adam Schiff to lobby for the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act and the American Music Fairness Act. The union delegation included Crabtree-Ireland; Pamela Greenwalt, Director of Communications and Marketing, and Kerri Wood Einertson, National Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy.
Drescher also reported on his efforts to establish a ‘Green Council’ of leading members of SAG-AFTRA to work with other entertainment industry organizations and NGOs to advance green practices and efforts. sustainability of the industry. She also reported on her plan to improve support for senior members, including access to the SAG-AFTRA and AFL-CIO Medicare supplement plans, as well as possible fundraising opportunities specifically to support senior members. .
Following a report from Ray Rodriguez, the union’s director of contracts, the board of directors voted to exercise a contractual option to allocate 0.5% of the annual salary increase of several of its contracts at the rate of contribution to the SAG-AFTRA health plan. The plan’s trustees, who were facing growing deficits, sparked a controversy – and a lawsuit led by the late SAG chairman Ed Asner – when he raised the qualification requirements earlier this year which critics and the plaintiffs most affected the senior members of the union.
Michael Estrada, CEO of SAG-AFTRA Health and Pension Plan, said both plans are “stable and healthy”, while noting the importance of growth in employer contributions to ensure their future success.
Secretary-Treasurer Joely Fisher and CFO Arianna Ozzanto presented a financial report showing expenses and income “are on plan and on budget.”
In its report to the board, Crabtree-Ireland provided an update on the union’s activities and upcoming initiatives, including current and upcoming contract negotiations, strategic partnerships, government affairs and public policies, and update on staffing. He also explained how SAG-AFTRA’s partnership with DGA, IATSE, Teamsters and grassroots craft unions during the pandemic “successfully led to the economic recovery of the entertainment industry” through to their work with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers must adopt safe return to work protocols, which have been extended until January 16, 2022.
He also spoke of the union’s continued support and the importance of various legislative efforts, including the American Music Fairness Act; the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act and California’s Freeing Artists from Industry Restrictions (FAIR) Act, noting that “the combined efforts of collective bargaining and the passage of legislation are both essential to the success of the union.”
David Viviano, the union’s chief economist, presented an annual performance report which showed that the jobs and incomes of SAG-AFTRA members reached record levels in the first five months of 2021, rebounding from a membership numbers fell nearly 40% last year. working under union contracts during the Covid-19 pandemic.