by Joan Quinn Eastman
Los Angeles, CA – While the world was distracted by the Will Smith/Chris Rock slap, they missed the real SAG-AFTRA drama the union is allowing to happen to its own members—discrimination, segregation and for many, no income for those who have not had the COVID shot. Actors Carlos Guerrero, of Miami and Sally Kirkland of LA are among those who will be speaking at a protest at union headquarters 5757 Wilshire Blvd. downtown L.A. on Thursday 4/28 at 11am.
“A year ago March I got the shot because everyone was doing it, I felt pressure to get the second one, too, but I will never take another vaccine again,” says Kirkland, an Oscar nominated actress. “I was devastated as I suffered through 7 ½ months of headaches, joint pain and nausea.
“I have had auto-immune issues in the past, so I guess I should not have taken the shot. I didn’t know this at the time, so I did not make an informed decision. Fortunately for me I have continued working. High potency vitamin infusions and have helped a lot.”
Among the messages Kirkland will be delivering at the SAG-AFTRA Performers Protest against all mandate is that union members like herself should not be pressured or forced to choose a treatment that could be harmful, as it has been for her, in order to work.
“A stunt performer described how he went from hero to zero in 60 days flat,” says SAG-AFTRA member, Guerrero. “He was denied work, until some of his fully vaxxed alternates who got the job all contracted COVID. He was asked to come work in place of them on the very set where he was previously not allowed. When he showed up, he “saved the day.” But despite working safely on the project for weeks, he continues to be passed over for subsequent productions.
“The majority of the members who remain unvaxxed but still rely on union work for their livelihoods, are also not being booked,” says Guerrero who has been diligently speaking out against the discriminatory treatment of those union members. “In the rare event that they do make it on set, they are isolated, and transported in separate buses, shades of Rosa Parks.”
Facebook “disappeared” a rapidly growing group Guerrero created that was exposing this type of discrimination on sets across the country. FB, YouTube and other social media outlets have routinely shadow banned, eliminated pages, and blocked the telling videos he has compiled like this one: https://rumble.com/v129jaq-discriminated-sag-aftra-members-part-4.html (links to more videos below). Fellow union members are coming out of the woodwork, most of whom are afraid to go public. This motivates Guerrero to speak for them, even if he has to fly across the country to L.A. to do it.
Cha Cha Sandoval-McMahon of Sherman Oaks, CA will not stay silent either, particularly with a union slogan like: “Live Better, Work Union.”
“How can I live better if I can’t work?” asks the first SAG Latina stunt woman who lost her house as she and her husband battled cancer without health insurance. “It was pay the mortgage or the insurance. Where was my union when I needed them?”
Sadly, the family lost their home, their business, and Cha Cha’s husband lost his battle with cancer. He died trying to survive, working “like an animal” until the very end.
“Union Executives are paid obscene salaries, have healthcare coverage provided for themselves and their families on our dime. We scrape together a living, but are expected to continue to pay dues with little or no income, to cover the cost of it!” laments Sandavol-McMahon. “And now they want to exclude residual income from the earnings required to qualify for health insurance. So after years of paying dues and when veteran performers need it the most, they are being kicked to curb when they need health insurance the most. I’ve seen enough discrimination as a minority. I can’t sit idle as experienced actors and those who want medical freedom are denied benefits or the right to earn a paycheck.
“When I see the androgynous statue that symbolizes our union standing proud, I feel like it is flipping us the finger as its executives skim money from our hard earned contributions.”
These issues are among the many that caused Sandoval-McMahon to organize a Performers Protest at SAG-AFTRA headquarters in Los Angeles, Thursday, April 28th at 11am, 5757 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.
“If people truly want to live better, they need to show up in numbers on the 28th to let the powers that be, know that they will not allow them to discriminate while they live high on the hog off them,” urges Sandoval-McMahon.
Union job restrictions are shamelessly presented, but inconsistently enforced. A prime example is the ridiculously long list of requirements that was included in the invitation for SAG members to attend their own awards ceremony. Among the rules to attend was the wearing of masks, proof of vax, and social distancing. This prevented many from attending the annual event, including SAG nominee, Forrie A. Smith of Yellowstone. Those who did attend, saw no one complying.
At the 28th Screen Actor’s Guild Awards Show in February, SAG President, Fran Drescher stated that SAG-AFTRA Union is proud to fight against all discrimination. She has made no secret of her opposition to vaccines and government mandates and yet she is the leader of a union that has a Return To Work Agreement that not only discriminates against the tens of thousands without the shot, but also segregates its own members who are not allowed to work on productions that are contracted under the agreement.
Drescher, fellow officers, and committee members have been seen parading mask-less at events, including this year’s Superbowl, while passing the buck to producers who are left to enforce the unlawful mandates. Drescher has publicly questioned the necessity of vaccines, particularly with children, and voiced her objections to the harmful, toxic chemicals in them. She chooses to instead advocate for all-natural alternatives. “The Nanny” star has stated that she “would never comply with government mandates” (which are not laws). The cancer survivor and founder of Cancer Schmancer now finds herself presiding over a union that is turning a blind eye to forced shots, medical freedom, and a person’s right to choose what they want done or not done to their own body. Drescher’s position had previously been made clear on mainstream media while promoting her organization and in its website videos: https://www.cancerschmancer.org/
“Members across the country with religious and medical exemptions are being denied their protections,” says Chuck Slavin of Boston, a longstanding member of SAG-AFTRA New England. “As president, Drescher is in a unique position to do something about this. She has an obligation to all of her members, not just some of them.
“In many cases members supporting those who do not have the shot are being publicly shamed. We must speak up for each and every member. Being “Stronger Together” cannot just be a lip service slogan.”
Interestingly, no such restrictions are in place for SAG executives and staff who appear at events without masks, while their vacant offices cost the dues paying members $23 million a year. This despite the fact that their union offices nationwide have remained closed for more than 2 years.
They enjoy full health insurance benefits for themselves and their families, while cutting insurance benefits from veteran actors by no longer allowing residuals to go toward the income thresholds required to receive benefits. Watch for a wave of big name actors protesting against this unwarranted action in the near future.
SAG/AFTRA also received a ten million dollar PPP ‘loan’ that does not need to be paid back. They have Paycheck Protection, and yet certain members are being denied the chance to earn one.
Screen Actors Guild-American Federation Of Television And Ra in Los Angeles, CA – SBA PPP Loan Data (Paycheck Protection Program)” https://www.federalpay.org/paycheck-protection-program/screen-actors-guild-american-federation-of-television-and-ra-los-angeles-ca
As soon as Guerrero saw what he recognizes as “blatant discrimination” he began asking questions, all of which have been met with silence like this letter to SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director:
Mr. Duncan Crabtree Ireland,
After many attempts to get an answer from Sag-Aftra’s Leaders and being completely ignored I will make another attempt at it. Mr. Ireland, What is the purpose of continuing to keep the Return To Work agreement with the Vaccine Mandates when the entire world knows that the vaccines are neither protecting the vaccinated from catching or spreading the virus?
Why is it that you and your constituents continue to have these policies in place when the rest of the country has been lifting the mandates?
What is your motive?
Since the vaccinated are catching and spreading the virus, being hospitalized, and dying, then what is your excuse for separating and not allowing the un-vaccinated to work.
By now, You must be aware as Mr Gregoire has been aware for months now that producers are not accepting any medical or religious exemptions.
What are you doing to stop the discrimination happening with the members of Sag-Aftra, the union members you are supposed to and claim to protect against discrimination?
Currently You must also be aware that there are tens of thousands of us who are not working because of the policies in place that do not make it safer for anyone on sets or in studios. When will you lift the mandates?Waiting for your prompt reply,
BTW. I would appreciate a reply from you and not a lawyer.
Undeterred, Guerrero also began outreach on social media to connect those who were reluctant to come forward and speak up for fear of “Black List” retaliation. He wonders if that same fear is what is keeping mainstream media from covering this story, most of whom ARE members of SAG/AFTRA (American Federation of Radio & Television Artists).
*Steel Truth, with Ann Vandersteel will be live-streaming the Performers Protest at SAG/AFTRA Headquarters on April 28th at 11AM PT: https://steeltruth.com/
“I’ve been silenced from getting my message out, and that’s a direct violation of my rights protected by the 1st Amendment,” says Guerrero. “And the lawful rights of my fellow SAG-AFTRA members for accommodations are being ignored and violated as well.”
Despite the messages being thwarted, the videos have prompted a flurry of responses, including from SAG stars who wish to remain anonymous. They oppose the Return to Work requirements that, ironically, deny members their basic right to work, but they fear repercussions if they go public. Guerrero has moved past the fear.
“By law, accommodations must be made for those who choose not have the shot. The production industry is not exempt from this. But they are ignoring the fact that many of their members are exempt from being forced to take a treatment cannot or do not want.
“My parents grew up in a communist country. I will not just stand by and simply watch what amounts to a hostile take-over of our free country.”
Guerrero, Slavin, and Sandoval-McMahon are among those who believe that 160,000 SAG members deserve transparency from the union they fund and answers to question such as these:
Why is this information being censored?
Why have mandates been extended without merit until April 30th when vax status has not affected the spread?
Why do staff have full benefits and none of the restrictions being imposed upon the performers who pay their salaries?
Has the union been coerced to push the shot and comply by the $10million in PPP loan they received?
When will members not only return to work but finally return to normal?
SAG Discrimination Videos:
Who and How
Rules for Thee, but not for Me
Security Theatrics for Actors
Carlos Guerrero speaks out on The Steel Truth, with Ann Vandersteel.