'Remarkably productive meeting,' say Howard, Reardon

Plans to merge Hollywood’s two biggest performer unions remain on track as reps of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists continue targeting January for completing a final proposal.

SAG and AFTRA issued a joint statement Wednesday, a day after a five-day meeting concluded, asserting that the confab had been “remarkably productive.”

It was the third formal confab of the Group for One Union, which received updates from the workgroups in Governance & Structure; Finance & Dues; Collective Bargaining; Pension, Health & Retirement; Operations & Staff; and Member Education & Outreach. As with the two previous meetings in June and August, the unions disclosed only general details about the substance of discusssions.

Proponents have argued that a combined union would be more powerful and remove jurisdictional overlaps. Opponents have contended that the new union should be for actors only but SAG voters have been backing pro-merger candidates overwhelmingly in recent elections.

Should the proposal be approved in January by the national boards, members could be asked to vote by next spring in a contest that would require 60% of those voting in each union to approve. SAG currently has about 120,000 members while AFTRA has about 70,000 with about 45,000 performers belonging to both unions.

“This was a remarkably productive meeting and we made solid progress across the full spectrum of issues we have to consider,” said SAG president Ken Howard and AFTRA president Roberta Reardon. “The members and staff of both unions continue to work as a true team, and our efforts continue to prove that our shared interests are far greater than any differences we have.

“The entertainment and media industries are evolving more quickly than ever, and the chance to bring our unions together is a golden opportunity — one we plan to take full advantage of. We’re committed to preserving the best aspects of SAG and AFTRA while we build a powerful new union that will be even better equipped to take on the emerging realities we’re facing. One thing is certain: We’re much stronger together than we are apart.”

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