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SAG-AFTRA National Convention (or I Had No Idea It Would Be Like This)

I’m going to split my recap of the SAG-AFTRA Convention into two posts. Today will be about a majority of the 4 days I spent at Convention and tomorrow I’ll write about the gala.

I’ve mentioned this on here before, but when I ran for my delegate seat I wasn’t 100% sure what I was in for. I knew that it would involve attending the National Convention, but that’s pretty much all I knew. I have been wanting to get more involved in the union for a while, so this was jumping in with both feet.

With National Convention coming closer, all the delegates got lots of emails with schedules and things that we would need to be aware of. The Convention website (and later the app they created) had all the amendments and resolutions that we would be voting on during Convention. Some of these things made sense to me, but many confused me. Fortunately, I have friends who know more about the union than I do that I can trust and they explained things to me and helped me understand which way I was wanting to vote on each thing.

The first day of Convention was Thursday evening for the delegate party. I don’t have any pictures of this because I had to run an unexpected errand right before the party and ended up arriving an hour late (the party was only 2 hours). I checked in and got my delegate badge and bag filled with information for the weekend.

My Badge

I got to see a bunch of my delegate friends at the party. But since I knew the next morning would be a very early morning for me, I didn’t stay too long.

The next morning was the first day of “real” Convention activities. We voted on the Executive Vice President as an entire group and then we divided up to vote on Vice Presidents for our regions or categories. The voting took time, but I appreciated that because on Friday (and again on Saturday) I was working my box office day job from Convention. I got permission to do chats only and not phone calls, but I still had to focus on my customers. So while the voting was being done or counted, I sat at my table and worked (most of the other delegates used that time to talk to friends or meet new people from other parts of the country).

Convention Room

We also spent a lot of time at Convention voting on the amendments and resolutions that we had been sent prior to Convention. I really can’t say too much about what happened during that voting. But I do want to say that while during the elections over the summer there was very much an attitude of one side versus the other, at Convention everyone came together as one and we all worked to make sure that what we chose to do is in the best interest of all performers, recording artists, and broadcasters in the union.

We also got to hear from our National Executive Director, David White, about what is coming for the union and what he wants us to accomplish. I’ve met David White briefly before, but getting to hear his report was so inspiring and I’m so happy that he is our NED and helping us make the union the best that it can be. Again, I’m not able to share a ton of what was discussed, but there are some really great plans for the future that should be announced in the next few months.

At one point during Saturday, we got to split up and chose a workshop to attend. There were a couple of different options and it was tough to choose one, but some of my fellow delegates and I decided to all try to attend different ones so we could share what we learned. It was interesting hearing the issues that members of the union face and learn what we can do to fix things, whether or not we are personally affected.

While a lot of the business was work, the staff (who did an amazing job putting together and coordinating Convention) did try to make things fun for us too. Every morning there was a breakfast (I only took advantage of that on Sunday when they had some eggs, bacon, hash browns, and fruit) and on Friday and Saturday there was lunch provided. Friday lunch was good, but nothing too special. But Saturday lunch was provided by several food trucks!

Food Truck Lunch

I got to enjoy some tacos and ice cream before heading back into the Convention room to get back to work. The food truck lunch was a highlight for many of us and a much appreciated break from working so hard on getting things done.

We heard speeches from our President, Executive Vice President, and Secretary/Treasurer to hear what their plans and goals are for the next 2 years (when the next election and convention will be). There have been so many things done in the past 2 years and I know the next 2 will be just as productive, if not more so.

I know this sounds like a lot of information. It is. I’m still a bit overwhelmed on everything I experienced. A friend of mine asked me to explain why I thought that Convention was so beneficial for me as an actor. The best thing I came up with was that before it was like I was a tourist of my union. Now I’m a citizen or resident of the union. I had no idea about the issues that the broadcasters or recording artists deal with, but since we are one union it is important for all performers to help them with their fight. I learned so much about what I can do when I see things that aren’t on the up and up and how to properly report them to the union (I haven’t done that properly in the past). I learned about how there are so many things in the works for the union that can’t be announced publicly yet because that puts those things at risk for not being able for being done. But most importantly, I became more proud of being a SAG-AFTRA member than ever before and want all my fellow union members to feel that same pride.

I hope that this is just the beginning of my political career with SAG-AFTRA. I know 100% for sure that I will be running as a delegate again in 2 years. I don’t know if I’d want to be a board member yet, but I’ve got plenty of time to learn more about that position and to decide.

But for now, I’m taking the inspiration that I feel from Convention and making sure that I keep this feeling and momentum going and share it with you all.

Unite For Strength (or SAG-AFTRA Election Time)

I’m so excited to announce that I am running for a Convention delegate seat with SAG-AFTRA (the actor union I’m a member of)! I was asked if I was interested to run by a friend of mine. I was a bit hesitant at first, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. So I decided to go for it! I’ve been wanting to be more involved in my union and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. I just needed someone to give me the push to get involved.

I’m running with the Unite For Strength slate. The UFS group was formed before the two unions merged. They were the SAG-AFTRA representatives that were pro-merger. I actually got to attend one of the pre-merger UFS meetings before I joined the union. The same friend who asked me if I wanted to run this year brought me as his guest. It was a bit overwhelming at that party at first since I really didn’t know anyone (and everyone seemed to be a really established actor who I had looked up to and I was a bit nervous). But I was immediately struck by how smart and friendly everyone was. And even though I was a non-union member attending the event, everyone was interesting in getting to know who I am and answer any questions I might have had (and I had a ton at the time).

I’m honored that I’m a part of UFS for this coming election. We actually have a ton of really amazing people running for various positions in the union.

UFS 2013 Mailer Side 2

(I’m #144 on the list!).

We had a meeting as a group the other night to discuss some election things including rules of what we can and can’t do while we campaign and so us newbies could meet some of the more experienced union members who can help us out. It’s a little intimidating being in that room and hearing what other members have had to deal with in past elections, but I tried to listen to what everyone said and take in as much as I could (thankfully, UFS also sends us emails so I have copies of all the super important stuff).

Again, I was so impressed by everyone else running with UFS. Everyone was so friendly and really was there to help everyone else. I got to talk to most of the people who were at the meeting and they helped me realize that everyone has the same nerves and fears when they ran for a position for the first time. But that’s why you join a group like UFS. They are almost like election mentors and they are there to help guide me through this. And hopefully I’ll be elected and then they will be there for me again to help make sure that I am able to be a successful Convention delegate.

I think the most important thing I learned at the meeting was that it’s ok for me not to know everything. I’m going to learn and there are plenty of people who are supporting me who can help me out if I can’t answer something. My job is really to listen, to learn, and to be a voice of the union. And that’s something that I can do.

If you are able to vote in the upcoming SAG-AFTRA election, I would love it if you would vote for me (#144) and the rest of the Unite For Strength slate. But even if you don’t want to vote for me or the slate, it is so important for you to vote no matter what. I know for the merger vote there was a pretty high turnout but for this election it’s not expected to be nearly as many. So every single vote counts. It is important to be an active member of the union and by doing so you may be inspired to get more involved one day like I’m hoping to do if I win my delegate seat.

If any of you have any questions about Unite For Strength, the upcoming election, or anything else regarding SAG-AFTRA; feel free to ask me. You can comment on here or you can use my contact form if you want it to be a bit more private. If I don’t know the answer, I will find someone who does and get you the answer. Even if I don’t get voted in as a Convention delegate, I really do want to help any of you find the answers you want regarding the union. I had people who did that for me and now it’s my turn to repay the favor.

Ballots should be getting to you in the next few days, so please take a look at the Unite For Strength slate and make sure you vote!