12/04/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/05/2021 00:18
The SAG-AFTRA National Board met Saturday in a scheduled one-day videoconference plenary. The board passed a resolution to establish a national standing committee dedicated to the prevention of sexual harassment, to take over this important work from the existing Sexual Harassment Prevention Working Group and appointed SAG-AFTRA National Vice President, Los Angeles Michelle Hurd as national chair of the committee.
The Sexual Harassment Prevention Committee will provide guidance for the union's educational and reporting platforms and collaborate with industry partners and allies to support victims and eradicate workplace harassment and assault. The committee will be responsible for reviewing ongoing strategies and working in collaboration with local committees to advocate for broad-based legislative change and for industry-specific initiatives that prevent workplace harassment. To ensure the safety of all members and create safe spaces for discussion, the committee will also oversee the prioritization and coordination of education and related activities nationwide.
"SAG-AFTRA has always been committed to ending sexual harassment. But now more than ever, we are declaring the 'casting couch' officially dead!" said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. "This newly formed national committee is yet another way of working towards that goal. As a survivor of sexual assault, I want to ensure that we can do everything within our power to protect our members and ensure they feel safe in their workplace, both physically and mentally. This is the time and place for zero tolerance for any action that degrades or objectifies women and men of all ages who simply wish to do a good job for their employers in a safe and respectful environment."
"I also want to congratulate and thank Michelle Hurd, who will serve as committee chair. Michelle has been a dedicated leader in our union, particularly in advocating for ways to prevent sexual harassment -- most recently by championing our sexual harassment reporting app. I feel confident that with Michelle at the helm, we will weed out this insidious behavior once and for all."
"Creating a permanent standing committee is an important step in our long-term and strategic plan to protect our members from sexual harassment and abuse," said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. "Vice President Michelle Hurd will undoubtedly lead this group to explore new and creative ways our union and our industry can bring longtime practices of harassment and abuse to an end."
The new committee is the latest in SAG-AFTRA's robust efforts to prevent sexual harassment. In recent years, the union has undertaken several successful measures, including releasing the definitive code of conduct to prevent sexual harassment and assault in the industry; codifying language into agreements that banned improper private meetings in hotel rooms and personal residences; developing the Safe Place reporting platforms, which makes it easier for members to quickly and discreetly report sexual harassment; and partnering with the intimacy coordinator community to safely grow and standardize the profession, helping to change the culture on sets when nude and intimate scenes are being performed.
The Board also reviewed administrative, finance and governance matters and received reports, including:
President Drescher opened with a remembrance of members and staff who have passed away since the July National Board meeting and led the Board in a moment of silence.
Drescher also reported on SAG-AFTRA's recent meetings in Washington, D.C. where she met with Vice President Kamala Harris and, along with a delegation including Crabtree-Ireland, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Pamela Greenwalt, and National Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy Kerri Wood Einertson, met with White House staff to discuss forging a long-term partnership. She and the delegation also met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Representatives Judy Chu and Adam Schiff to lobby in support of the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act and the American Music Fairness Act.
Drescher reported on her efforts to establish a Green Council comprised of high-profile SAG-AFTRA members, which will work with other entertainment industry organizations and NGOs to lead the way in industry-wide green practices and sustainability. Drescher reported on her plan to enhance support for senior members, including access to the highest quality SAG-AFTRA and AFL-CIO Medicare supplement plans, as well as possible opportunities to raise funds specifically to support senior members.
National Executive Director's Report
Crabtree-Ireland provided an update on the union's operations and upcoming initiatives, including ongoing and upcoming negotiations, strategic partnerships, government affairs and public policy, and staffing updates.
He highlighted how the partnerships with SAG-AFTRA's sister unions - DGA, IATSE, and the Teamsters and Basic Crafts - have successfully led to the economic recovery of the entertainment industry. In addition, Crabtree-Ireland spoke about upcoming partnerships and events with CES, the Universal Hip Hop Museum/Hip Hop Alliance, the AFL-CIO Technology Institute, The Hollywood Reporter, SXSW and the Sundance Film Festival.
Chief Economist David Viviano presented an annual performance report for 2021, which highlighted the significant growth in new joins of members and growth in covered earnings, and demonstrated the meaningful rebound in both jobs and earnings due to the strong market demand for dramatic programming.
Crabtree-Ireland also spoke about the union's continued support for and the importance of various legislative efforts, including AMFA (American Music Fairness Act), PATPA (Performing Artist Tax Parity Act), and California's FAIR (Freeing Artists from Industry Restrictions) Act, noting that the combined efforts of collective bargaining and working to pass legislation are both key to the success of the union.
Crabtree-Ireland also noted that the Return to Work Agreement with the AMPTP was extended through January 16, 2022 with no changes to the current COVID safety protocols.
Secretary-Treasurer Joely Fisher and Chief Financial Officer Arianna Ozzanto presented the financial report on FY22 actuals from May 1 - July 31, 2021, showing that actuals are on plan and tracking to budget.
Health & Pension Report
SAG-AFTRA Health Plan and Pension Plan CEO Michael Estrada presented a report on the status of both plans, reflecting their stable and healthy status while noting the importance of growth in contributions for their future success.
Following a report by Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez, the board voted to exercise a contractual option to direct 0.5% of the annual wage increase under several of its contracts to the contribution rate for the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan.
Executive Vice President Ben Whitehair, Crabtree-Ireland and Chief Governance and Equity & Inclusion Officer Michelle Bennett reported on various governance matters. The Board voted to refer resolutions passed at the recent convention to appropriate committees and staff.
The meeting adjourned at 5:02 p.m. PT.