SAG-AFTRA to hold first national convention in L.A.

Seventeen months after its creation, Hollywood’s largest performers union will hold its first national convention in Los Angeles this week.

More than 350 delegates from across the country will attend the inaugural SAG-AFTRA National Convention, which kicks off at the JW Marriott at L.A. Live on Thursday morning.

Delegates will elect the executive vice president, the second-highest-ranking member in the union behind the union’s president, as well as seven vice presidents representing various locals and categories within the union representing actors/performers, broadcasters and sound recording artists.

The vice presidents serve on the national board of the union, which has more than 165,000 members.

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The delegates also will vote on some 35 resolutions, including a controversial proposal aimed at “advancing local autonomy” by giving local union offices control of their budgets and local checking accounts. Another proposal would reopen the Nevada and San Diego offices that were shut down as part of a restructuring after the merger.

Other resolutions call for establishing singer representation on the national board, creating a separate membership category for background performers (extras) and a new method for qualifying for membership within SAG-AFTRA.

The new method would replace the current so-called three voucher system with one that requires background performers to complete 100-days of non-union work before they become eligible to join the union, according to a copy of the resolution obtained The Times.

Bringing together such a diverse group of actors, singers and broadcasters in a common coalition was one of the chief catalysts for the decision in March 2012 to combine the Screen Actors Guild with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a sister union with which it had often clashed.

Veteran actor Ken Howard, who championed the merger, was elected to a second term as the union’s president last month, easily defeating challenger Esai Morales.

The convention, which runs through Saturday, also will feature various industry panels and high-profile speakers, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who will deliver the keynote speech on Thursday, and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, who will speak on Saturday.


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