IATSE blesses SAG-AFTRA deal

Second union to endorse changes

HOLLYWOOD — Campaigning for the proposed SAG-AFTRA merger has kicked into high gear with the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees blessing the deal.

“IATSE recognizes the value of bringing actors, recording artists and broadcasters together under one banner to maximize bargaining leverage,” IATSE prexy Thomas Short said. “The consolidation of AFTRA and SAG will mean more organizing opportunities for them, and for all our unions. IATSE members work side-by-side with SAG and AFTRA members around the world and we are proud to join our sister unions and the AFL-CIO and support SAG and AFTRA in this vital endeavor.”

Short, whose union reps about 100,000 below-the-line craft employees, has been critical of SAG leadership in the past for its strategy of going down to the wire on contract negotiations.

IATSE becomes the second union to endorse the SAG-AFTRA merger, taking the step two weeks after Actors Equity Assn. made a similar move.

Should the merger go through, Equity is expected to seek a merger into the umbrella union, dubbed the Alliance of Intl. Media Artists.

Ballots out in June

Ballots for the merger — which will create affiliates for actors, broadcasters and recording artists — will go out to members in early June with results announced three weeks later. SAG plans to spend $1.6 million on pushing the deal and has begun including “Partnership for Power” pitches in dues statements and residuals checks.

The pro-merger message has focused on the expected economic benefits such as “No more wasted resources; we get must get the most out of our dues dollars,” and “Combined strength and expertise focused on jobs and benefits.”

The boards of both unions overwhelmingly approved the deal earlier this month. The merger must be approved by 60% of voters in both unions.

For its part, the SaveSAG anti-merger group has questioned the timing of SAG’s recent announcement of plans to raise the qualifications for background actors with board member Valerie Harper calling it a “ploy to win merger referendum votes.”

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