SAG-AFTRA Sets Agenda for Inaugural Convention

6:12 AM PST 09/24/2013 by Jonathan Handel

Business sessions, panels, workshops and speeches from AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and U.S Representative Judy Chu are all on the schedule.

SAG-AFTRA has announced the agenda for its inaugural convention, to be held in Los Angeles beginning with a delegate welcome reception this Wednesday, Sept. 25. The agenda for the five-day event incorporates business sessions, panels, workshops and a range of keynote speakers, including AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and U.S. Representative Judy Chu.

Although the convention is the merged union’s first, it will be the second labor convention held in Los Angeles in recent weeks: The AFL-CIO held its meeting from Sept. 8 to 11.

But there’s a difference between the two confabs: The entire AFL-CIO convention was open to the press, while SAG-AFTRA's staff has decided to close all but the keynotes and several receptions. That’s not sitting well with some delegates.

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“It’s especially ironic that a union that represents reporters is excluding them from doing what they do for a living,” said national board member Mary McDonald-Lewis. “I intend to stand on the convention floor and demand that the business of the members be communicated to the members via the press, not using the PR arm of the union.”

The entire AFL-CIO convention is available on YouTube. In contrast, McDonald-Lewis blasted what she called SAG-AFTRA’s “need to control and repress the message.”

Meanwhile, a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson said, “This is the first time that members of the SAG-AFTRA family from around the country have had the opportunity to gather together, connect with one another and have direct discussions about their union. It is a member event and is focused on educating, informing and inspiring our members.”

The closed sessions will be used to elect the union’s executive vice president and seven vice presidents and debate and vote on constitutional amendments and convention resolutions.

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The evp race features SAG-AFTRA’s national vp for Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, 90210 alum Gabrielle Carteris, and the union’s New York local president Mike Hodge. Additional candidates could emerge at the convention. The constitutional amendments cover a variety of topics; the subject matter of the resolutions is still unknown.

The SAG-AFTRA convention schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, Sept. 25:  Welcome reception in the evening for delegates, featuring special guests including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles City Council members, CBS-2 broadcaster Pat Harvey and actor Jon Tenney.

Thursday, Sept. 26: Convention opening session, featuring a keynote speech by Trumka, as well as executive and national vice president elections.

Friday, Sept. 27: An entertainment industry plenary session, featuring experts from BuzzFeed, Spotify, ICM, BreakMedia and Somo Mobile Ltd. Other convention business includes a discussion of constitutional amendments and breakout panels and workshops, as well as the presentation of the study “Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Diversity in the Industry,” conducted by UCLA’s Williams Institute and SAG-AFTRA. In the evening, the union hosts the Convention Celebration and American Scene Awards.

Saturday, Sept. 28: Remarks by Perez and Chu, two business sessions addressing constitutional amendments and resolutions and contract reports from the union’s three major contract areas: news and broadcast, actor/performer and sound recordings.

Sunday, Sept. 29: Convention closing brunch, featuring officer reports from SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard, Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino, the newly elected executive vice president (who will be elected at the convention) and National Executive Director David White.

The SAG-AFTRA National Board will meet following the conclusion of the convention on Monday and Tuesday. For more information on the convention: https://www.sagaftraconvention.org/.

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E-mail: jhandel99 at gmail dot com
Twitter: @jhandel

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