Screen Actors Guild Issues Statement of Support for Meghan Markle as Elderly Members Fight for Healthcare

Britain's Prince Harry's fiancee US actress Meghan Markle waves as she poses for a photograph in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in west London on November 27, 2017, following the announcement of their engagement. - Britain's Prince Harry will marry his US actress girlfriend Meghan Markle early next year …
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

Hollywood’s largest labor union has issued a statement of support for Meghan Markle following her interview this week with Oprah Winfrey, saying that “everyone” deserves union protection. SAG-AFTRA’s comment comes as it continues fighting a class action lawsuit brought by its elderly members who are accusing the guild of kicking them off their health plan in the middle of a pandemic.

SAG-AFTRA tweeted its words of support for the Duchess of Sussex shortly after her interview first aired on CBS on Sunday. “We are still here for you, Meghan,” the guild said. “Everyone deserves the protection of a union.”

The guild appeared to be responding specifically to Markle’s comment about experiencing mental health issues and having nowhere to turn. “In my old job there was a union, and they would protect me,” she told Winfrey.

Meghan Markle told Winfrey that she experienced suicidal thoughts during her time as a member of the royal family.

“And so I went to human resources, and I said, ‘I just really need help. Because in my old job there was a union, and they would protect me.’ And I remember this conversation like it was yesterday, because they said, ‘My heart goes out to you because I see how bad it is, but there’s nothing we can do to protect you because you’re not a paid employee of the institution.'”

Markle was a Hollywood actress and a SAG-AFTRA member before she married Prince Harry. It remains unclear if the former Suits star is still a guild member, though the union’s tweet suggests she still is.

SAG-AFTRA is currently in the midst of a nasty legal battle with some of its elderly members over cuts to the guild’s health plan. The group, led by 91-year-old Ed Asner, is suing the guild over its decision to raise the minimum earnings requirement for its health plan. According to the complaint, the change would disqualify many elderly actors from receiving health coverage while in the middle of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

Stars including Morgan Freeman, Amy Schumer, Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Sheen, and Mark Hamill have backed the lawsuit by appearing in a promotional video criticizing guild leadership.

SAG-AFTRA recently held disciplinary meetings over former President Donald Trump, who was also a guild member. But Trump resigned from the union before leaders could take action against him.

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