AFTRA slams SAG plan

Takeover of representation called 'arrogant,' 'dangerous'

HOLLYWOOD — AFTRA chief Greg Hessinger has blasted the notion that SAG should acquire AFTRA’s jurisdiction over acting work, a proposal that has been floated as an alternative to merging the performers unions.

“Nobody with even a cursory knowledge of federal labor law or these unions — at least no such person who really cares about actors — would seriously advocate such an approach,” he told Daily Variety.

Hessinger’s assertion came in response to questions in the wake of last week’s attempt by SAG prexy Melissa Gilbert to seek help from merger opponents to sort out jurisdictional questions. During the merger campaign, opponents proposed SAG take over all acting work and provide AFTRA with compensation to keep it solvent in light of its current $2 million deficit.

But Hessinger labeled the compensation-for-jurisdiction idea as “arrogant” because it presumes AFTRA-represented actors would desire such an arrangement.

He also said the notion was naive since AFTRA’s acting jurisdiction — which includes variety shows and daytime TV such as soaps — is not for sale and would be far outside SAG’s purchasing power if it were. And he called the idea “dangerous” because of the potential of performers losing collective bargaining agreement protections, including health and retirement benefits.

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