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The Story Behind Rick Perry’s AFL-CIO Membership

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Governor Rick Perry caused a buzz on Friday when he mentioned that he was a dues-paying, card-carrying member of the AFL-CIO, and Breitbart Texas has learned that his union affiliation is with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the same organization formerly headed by Ronald Reagan before he entered politics.

Perry made the remarks at the Policy Orientation for the Texas Legislature, an annual conference organized by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). As Breitbart Texas reported, Perry told a surprised audience of conservative activists, donors, and policy analysts that he was a member of the AFL-CIO, and that it was important for Republicans to know how to discuss economic and job creation issues in ways that can appeal to all voters, including union members.

In an interview with Breitbart Texas, Kris Heckmann, Perry’s former Deputy Chief of Staff, explained the story behind Perry’s union membership. “It was on his bucket list to be in a movie,” said Heckmann. “Being a member of SAG was a requirement for that.”

Perry crossed the “movie” line off his bucket list in 2005, being cast to play himself in Man of the House, starring Tommy Lee Jones and directed by Stephen Herek, who had previously directed Bill &Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. The movie was mostly filmed around Austin, including on the University of Texas at Austin campus.

Heckmann confirmed that Perry has continued to pay his SAG dues. He also told Breitbart Texas that Perry has occasionally received small royalty checks from the film, “a few bucks here and there,” which he donates to the Texas Film Commission.

The movie was not a box office success, but Perry still enjoyed being a part of it, and has gladly maintained his SAG membership. “He’s proud of it, for what it is and what it was,” said Heckmann.

SAG, which is officially known as SAG-AFTRA since their 2012 merger with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, is the labor union that represents film and television artists. Reagan was elected SAG President in 1947 after several years of serving on their Board of Directors and led the organization through difficult times during the House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings and subsequent Hollywood blacklist era. Perry may not be destined for future Hollywood fame, but is widely assumed to be preparing his second attempt to share another resume line with Reagan: President of the United States.

Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report tweeted a statement earlier Friday from Ed Sills of the Texas AFL-CIO that they were unable to verify Perry’s union membership, but were glad to have him. “The more the merrier,” wrote Sills. “The labor movement wants to be a big tent and we do proudly represent a minority of Republican members…The AFL-CIO does not have a loyalty test. If anyone wants who disagrees with our policies or politics wants to join because they see value in collective action for a better livelihood, they will be welcomed, regardless of political party allegiance.”

For the record, we here at Breitbart Texas were certainly not “horrified” by Perry’s revelation of his union membership. It was just another entertaining moment covering politics in the Lone Star State.

 [Disclosure: Sarah Rumpf was previously employed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.]

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.

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