SAG, AFTRA set merger meet

Reps to confab June 15-17 in Silver Spring, MD

The first formal merger meeting between reps of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild has been set for June 15-17 in Silver Spring, MD.

AFTRA confirmed Thursday that the session, to be held at the National Labor College, had been set. It’s the first of four confabs that will take place as the panels begin the official process of delivering a merger plan by January.

The three-day session’s expected to draw about 40 people — the 13 members of the AFTRA New Union Committee, the 13 members of the SAG Merger Task Force, alternates and staff members.

The national board of AFTRA voted on May 14 to launch the process, two weeks after SAG’s national board OK’d developing a merger agreement, a constitution and a national dues structure for presentation. At that point, the boards had instructed the merger committees to hold their first meeting before June 30.

A member vote could take place by this time next year by the 120,000 members of SAG and the 70,000 members of AFTRA — with 45,000 members belonging to both. Merging SAG and AFTRA isn’t guaranteed, particularly among the 120,000 members on the SAG side, despite arguments that a combined union would be stronger and resolve long-standing jurisdictional problems.

Approval requires a 60% super-majority from those voting in both unions. SAG members rebuffed similar efforts in 1998 and 2003 amid concerns that a merger would cause SAG to lose its unique character as an actors union and that a combo could negatively impact the health and pension plans. Leaders still haven’t sorted out what to call the new entity, a key consideration that could derail the vote given that the moniker chosen in 2003 — the Alliance of International Media Artists — never appeared to gain much traction.

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