Leaders haven't decided what to call combined union

Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists haven’t yet decided what they’ll call the combined union, should members approve a merger next year, but it’s highly probable that the SAG and AFTRA names will survive.

Reps of the unions meet this weekend in a third set of confabs to hammer out details of the merger plan with the goal of presenting a final proposal to the national boards in January.

Reps for SAG and AFTRA had no comment on the potential name. Several sources have emphasized that the name hasn’t been discussed formally yet but strongly suggest that the SAG and AFTRA names will both remain.

The SAG/AFTRA Group for One Union will begin meeting Friday and conclude on Tuesday. In the two previous meetings in June and August, the unions have disclosed only general details about the substance of discusssions.

The group’s cautious approach contrasts with the tack taken in 2003 when the merger proponents selected an ambitious moniker — the Alliance of Intl. Media Artists. SAG voters then narrowly turned down the proposal, which required a 60% super-majority to go through.

Proponents argued in that campaign that the new union would be more powerful and would remove jurisdicitional overlaps but opponents contended that the benefits of the new union were negligible and that SAG would have lost its unique character as an actors union.

The AIMA designation would have been for the combined organization with a trio of affiliates — SAG for actors; the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists for broadcasters; and the American Federation of Recording Artists for recording artists. Merger advocates said at the time that the official group chose the name as the way to “best identify media professionals who work around the globe in a variety of disciplines.”SAG was founded in 1933 and held a variety of celebrations two years ago to commemorate its 75th anniversary. The predecessor of AFTRA was founded in 1937 as the American Federation of Radio Artists.

SAG currently has about 120,000 members while AFTRA has about 70,000. About 45,000 performers belong to both unions.

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