Guild union to set off changes

Annual elections would be thing of the past

Should the proposed SAG-AFTRA merger pass, annual elections will be a thing of the past with the contests taking place every two years instead.

Reps for the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists had no comment Tuesday. Sources close to the situation indicated that the plan’s aimed at combining in line SAG’s annual direct voting structure for some offices with other slots filled using AFTRA’s national convention structure, held every two years with delegates elected at the local level.

SAG’s national board meets Friday and Saturday to OK the proposal, while AFTRA’s board is set to meet Saturday and possibly Sunday. The proposal, hammered out over the past seven months, is a non-binding recommendation from the AFTRA and SAG Group for One Union to the national boards.

Should the national boards approve, the proposal will be sent to 120,000 SAG members and 70,000 AFTRA members, who include actors, broadcasters, DJs, singers and dancers. To pass, the referendum would need a 60% approval margin from both orgs among votes cast.

SAG has been run by a 71-member national board for the past decade with members elected in a complex system providing for terms of one, two and three years. SAG members voted in 2002 to cut the number of board seats from 107 and boost Hollywood’s representation from 46% to 53% in a move suggested by a Towers Perrin report.

The changes in the board were ferociously opposed by the non-Hollywood branches, which feared such a move would lead to enactment of another Towers Perrin suggestion to close smaller SAG offices. The plan provided for a 62-seat structure for 71 reps with weighted balloting under which Hollywood and New York reps received 2.23 votes while the 16 smaller regional branches each have a single vote.

The unions haven’t confirmed any details but the new union will be called SAG-AFTRA.

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