Stay tuned for more information about the change she wants to make in our union!
My name is Maya Dunbar, a proud member of the Writers Guild of America, a dedicated actress, wife, homeschooling mother of four incredible children under nine, and a passionate advocate for doing what's right even when it's not the popular thing to do.
For over two decades, I, like most of us, blindly and naively assumed this guild was working for its members and my dues were an investment in my future. However, when my husband faced unprecedented discrimination by his AMPTP employer, our guild not only turned their back, but has continued to aid in the discrimination by remaining silent as its negative effects continue to ripple through 1000s of our members lives, lives that are now compounded with the financial stresses of strike. Therefore, the time for complacency and ignorance has passed, and today I stand before you as a candidate for much needed change.
For the last 2 years (under 'producers privilege'), our dues paying, hard working, brothers and sisters of SAG-AFTRA are still being prevented from working and are being denied unbiased interactive processes our NED and President assured us we'd have. Let me be clear: I stand resolute against the insidious concept of "producers' privilege." Our rights, enshrined in the Return to Work Agreement and protected by state and federal laws, should never be sacrificed for convenience, greed, nor emergency. I refuse to let our guild perpetuate such hypocrisy by placing employer (producer) needs over employee (members) rights when it's convenient. And yes, that means even in a pandemic, when our members need labor protections from producer overreach the most.
We deserve leaders who advocate for our rights without compromise, leaders who stand strong in the face of external pressures. Leaders who follow the science all the time, who believe an informed membership is a powerful one, and that bodily autonomy in ALL of its forms is sacred in a labor union. Leaders that understand that the moment these same CEO's and big corporations we're striking against have total dominion over us, our bodies, images and rights, is the day our artistry dies and our freedom ends.
That's why the heart of my campaign is a clarion call for transparency, accountability, and member empowerment. The secrecy behind the decision making in this guild is an insult to what a labor union stands for and it's past time our members are treated as the intelligent artists we are.
It deeply troubles me that our National Board has essentially been stripped of its power and is now ruled by our NED, that staff salaries have surged, fueled by our dues, while our own earnings diminish with each new contract. There's less work, yet a continual influx of new membership. Non-union flooding of the few sets still filming in America, combined with the rotating door of new members has created an unsustainable infrastructure that negatively impacts us all. I firmly believe that it's time for a paradigm shift. We must usher in leaders that listen to the members, values our contributions, and safeguards our rights with unwavering dedication more than they court celebrities, producers or the media.
Leading a labor union doesn't require a degree or years of experience more than it requires someone that cares about the underdogs more than they do the overlords.
I am acutely aware of the bubbling frustration our current strike has ignited along with the collective solidarity such a tumultuous moment yields. Calling for a strike might be a bold move, but skillfully navigating it to an equitable resolution, where our members haven't lost (due to the strike) more than they'll gain (contractually), requires true leadership, vision, and negotiating skills.
I pledge to put every ounce of effort into ending this strike within 60 days of my presidency. I am committed to pushing and encouraging the AMPTP back to the negotiating table every single day until an agreement is reached, by any means necessary. We can't afford to let a personal petty public standoff erode our gains and potential any further. Our members and the industries dependent on us, must return to work. A true negotiation is one where both sides walk away from the table feeling that they've lost something but to do that first requires both sides to sit down. And if that means we sit alone at that table everyday until the AMPTP shows up, so be it.
Now, let's talk Hollywood's favorite buzzword: Diversity. For me, this is a fundamental pillar of labor unity that spans across ethnicity, gender and into thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Our guild's history not only lacks a Black president, but also an independent, free thinking leader, whose identity isn't tied to outside political affiliations or internal warring factions and whose only goal is the betterment of all our people all the time while at work. Enough with the divisiveness that has permeated our profession and drained what fun was left.
Our job is to bring people together, help them forget about the problems of the world long enough to remember--we're more alike than we are different and we're better together than we are apart. I want to bring back real inclusion. The kind that embraces differing opinions and courts debate instead of silencing and ostracizing any dissent while demanding blind cult-like allegiance. We are not a monolith. We don't lose our individual autonomy/identity simply because as artists we're forced to be in a failing labor union, in a biased industry ruled by pathetic politics, run by people we did NOT vote for, under contracts we NEVER co-signed, in order to flourish in our chosen professions. We are ARTISTS and self employed 'employees' first then guild members. That mustn't be forgotten. Our individuality is what makes us unique, our solidarity is what makes us powerful.
Together, we can rewrite our story, fortify our resolve, and forge a new chapter where diversity of opinion and thought, transparency, accountability and an unbreakable spirit of true solidarity reign supreme. As winds of transformation sweep through our guild, let us carry the torch of progress and elect independent candidates who envision a radiant future for each and every SAG-AFTRA member the way it was intended.
I ask that you vote with your heart, spirit and conscience. Vote independent across the board. Vote Maya Gilbert Dunbar for President and Peter Antico for Treasurer.
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