The boards of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists have both agreed to a merger plan, which will now go to the rank and file, which is expected to vote to approve the merger. The AFTRA vote was 94% approve, 6% disapprove, while SAG's was only slightly less of an endorsement, 87.1%
approve to 12.9% disapprove. Meetings on creating a merger package have been going on since June of last year. Characterizing its vote, the AFTRA board called the new union a "unified, powerful union committed to organizing all work in our jurisdictions, negotiating the best wages, working conditions and health and pension benefits, preserving and expanding our members' work opportunities, vigorously enforcing our contracts and protecting our members against the unauthorized use of their work."
The two have jointly negotiated frequently in the past, though not always with the unity of purpose curently displayed. But wanted to formalize the relationship, in part to present a more consolidated front to match the consolidation in the industry. The merger will combine AFTRA's 70,000-plus members--actors and performers in TV, radio, recording and digital media, with SAG's 125,000-plus actors in commercials, TV programs, video games, corporate/educational media and new media.
"This is a terrific outcome and I offer my sincere thanks and congratulations to AFTRA's National Board and National President Roberta Reardon," said SAG President Ken Howard in a statement. "Professional performers are now an important step closer to the strongest union representation possible. Just as our boards have, I believe our members will decisively approve this merger and that SAG-AFTRA will be a leader in shaping the entertainment and media industries."
"I would like to congratulate the SAG National Board members on overwhelmingly approving the merger plan proposal," said Reardon.