Equity backs SAG-AFTRA merger

Group may try to join AIMA

HOLLYWOOD — Leaders of Actors’ Equity Assn. have unanimously endorsed the current proposal to merge SAG and AFTRA into a new umbrella union called the Alliance of Intl. Media Artists.

The Equity Council, meeting Tuesday in Gotham, backed the consolidation proposal following a presentation by Equity prexy Patrick Quinn. He identified increasing corporate control of the entertainment industry and the current health-insurance crisis as issues of “mutual concern” to all performers.

The move by the council is an indication of the strong probability that Equity — which reps more than 45,000 professional actors and stage managers working in legit theaters — will seek to become part of AIMA. Approximately two-thirds of Equity’s members are also in SAG and/or AFTRA.

First step

In February, Equity exec director Alan Eisenberg backed the proposal to merge SAG and AFTRA. SAG and AFTRA leaders already have suggested that once the merger is completed in June, they will begin seeking more merger partners, such as Equity and the American Federation of Musicians.

AEA took two steps late last year to seek closer relations with SAG and AFTRA, proposing a summit meeting among top staff and elected leaders of the three unions, and passing a resolution that encouraged “increased communication among SAG, AFTRA and AEA, leading to joint action on matters of mutual concern.”

Property accord

Another step took place in November in Montreal, when Equity, SAG, AFTRA and four other North American performers’ unions — meeting as the North American section of the Intl. Federation of Actors — reviewed a proposed minimum worldwide contract. The orgs also called on the World Intellectual Property Organization to grant performers basic economic and moral rights in any new WIPO treaty.

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