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Entertainment Industry Elections

February 23, 2024

The entertainment industry is filled with recognizable names. However, few people realize that even the most powerful stars are union members. Multi-millionaire entertainers may not require representation, but those further down the ladder benefit greatly from union membership, and a superstar's role in the union can help amplify the voices of the lowest-paid members.  

These organizations are mini democracies. They regularly hold union elections to decide who will negotiate on the member's behalf and negotiations with entertainment companies help ensure that people at all levels of fame receive fair compensation. Below, we’ll explore some of the more prominent unions and their election processes. 

SAG-AFTRA

The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is one of the largest unions. It represents more than 150,000 members across the industry. Simply having a speaking role in television, film, or commercials and applying for membership is how actors become union members. The union’s structure allows active members to participate in elections for leadership. 

Every two years, SAG-AFTRA holds national elections in which any member in good standing may vote. Roles such as president, vice president, and treasurer are the most prominent roles. 

The election process is similar to a standard political election. First, nominations are held to decide the candidates members may vote for. Next, the nominees campaign to highlight their vision and plans for the future of the organization. 

After the campaigning period concludes, SAG-AFTRA members vote for the candidates of their choice. This is traditionally done by mail-in ballot, though electronic voting is gaining steam in union elections across the globe. 

Once all the ballots have been cast, they are counted securely and transparently. The results are then announced through the official channels of the union. 

WGA

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is the largest writers union in the entertainment business. Almost every scripted television show, movie, or streaming series is written by members of the WGA. The WGA holds immense power in the entertainment industry, and WGA strikes have led to mass shutdowns and bottlenecks in productions across the industry.  

Thanks to its tireless campaigning for the rights of its members, the WGA has helped ensure that its writers receive fair compensation for more than ninety years. Increased demand for streaming content has also boosted the WGA’s membership and provided additional bargaining power in negotiations with studios. 

The elections process of the WGA is similar to SAG-AFTRA, with the exception that elections are held annually rather than every two years. Leadership is responsible for negotiations and helps guide the organization through policy-making and other critical decisions. 

DGA

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) is the final cornerstone of the entertainment industry unions. It represents not only the directors but also members of the directing team. These roles include assistant director, production manager, and production associate. 

Much like SAG-AFTRA and WGA, the DGA negotiates on behalf of its members and holds sway over many key decisions involving compensation throughout the entertainment industry. 

DGA elections are held every two years and members may be nominated for roles on the national board. The outcome of DGA elections can have influence on not just directors but the entertainment industry as a whole, a fact made clear by their advocacy for legislation that helps protect intellectual property rights in the era of digital distribution. 

Electronic Voting for Entertainment Unions

With such varied entertainment industry members located across America, in-person and mail-in voting is becoming increasingly expensive. Covid-19 accelerated this trend, and today, nearly all elections are held via secure online platforms such as those offered by ElectionBuddy. 

ElectionBuddy offers not only online voting but also online nominations, ballot initiatives, and secure, automated counting. Visit our website today and see why thousands of organizations are making the switch to ElectionBuddy!

Join 11,984+ organizations like yours that use ElectionBuddy to build more easy online elections

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