Howard, Reardon say transition will be 'as seamless as possible'

In their first post-merger message to members, SAG-AFTRA co-presidents Ken Howard and Roberta Reardon have pledged to keep the process as smooth as possible.

Howard and Reardon sent the welcome message Thursday, six days after the members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Screen Actors Guild endorsed the combo with 86% and 82% backing, respectively.

“By uniting more than 160,000 entertainment and media professionals under a single roof, you have formed an organization with the power to shape our industry in new and better ways for all our members,” Howard and Reardon said. “There will be some changes over the next year as we work to integrate operations, but it is our goal to make the transition as seamless as possible. One immediate change: You are now able to work under the contracts of both previous unions, even if you were a single-card member of SAG or AFTRA prior to our merger.”

Merger backers touted the combined SAG-AFTRA as having more power than the individual unions and the co-presidents sounded that theme again in the missive.

“SAG-AFTRA was created to secure the best wages, working conditions and benefits for all members, and to organize new work and expand union protections across the industry,” they said. “That mission will continue with renewed vigor and increased effectiveness.”

Howard and Reardon concluded the message by urging members to become involved with SAG-AFTRA, which has about 160,000 members.

“We urge you to participate in helping to shape this new union, whether it is through serving on committees, running for elected office or simply offering your valuable feedback,” they said. “Working together, there is no limit to what we can achieve.”

SAG-AFTRA hasn’t yet set the meeting of new national, a 110-member panel has been created by combining the SAG and AFTRA national boards. The current leaders of SAG-AFTRA will be up for election in summer 2013.

The key SAG-AFTRA master contracts expire in March 2013 for commercials, with talks expected to start in October, and in June 2014 for primetime and features.

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