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Merger foes massing for SAG confab

H'wood Republicans back Bush

SAG’s upcoming Hollywood membership meeting promises to be especially contentious, even by SAG standards.

Opponents of the proposed SAG/AFTRA merger will shed their low profile at the confab, slated for 1 p.m. Sunday at the Wadsworth Theater. They plan to be out in force to question SAG prexy Melissa Gilbert, first VP Mike Farrell and CEO Bob Pisano, who have aggressively marketed the deal for two months prior to the 98,000 SAG members receiving ballots.

SAG has hired PR specialist GMMB, started surveying hundreds of members over the phone through an outside polling firm, set up a Web site at www.consolidateaffiliate.org and issued laudatory press releases highlighting the benefits of the deal and the endorsement of AFL-CIO president John Sweeney. It has refused to disclose the amount of money it is spending.

A push for Bush

Merger proponents have touted the increased clout and efficiency of a merged union — with affiliates for actors, broadcasters and recording artists — and the disappearance of jurisdictional disputes in TV shows shot on digital.

Opponents have objected to the lack of direct elections for top officers and noted that AFTRA created the jurisdictional disputes while failing to organize a significant number of cable shows.

Additionally, the Hollywood Congress of Republicans has asked members who also belong to SAG to attend for a different reason: “Mike Farrell will be making remarks, some of which may include anti-Bush/anti-American comments,” a message from the HCR says. “Please sit in the front row so that if any anti-Bush comments are made, you can make your dissent known.”

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