Four months after completing its merger, SAG-AFTRA has received a new national charter from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.
The charter was presented Wednesday at the AFL-CIO executive council meeting in Washington, D.C., and authorizes SAG-AFTRA “to conduct the affairs of said union in furtherance of the best interest of the AFL-CIO and of labor in general.”
SAG and AFTRA received their first charters through the Associated Actors and Artistes of America in the mid-1930s. AFTRA received its direct charter from the AFL-CIO in 2008.
The AFL-CIO has chartered 56 unions with more than 12 million members.
“With workers’ rights under attack nationwide, this charter represents a bright spot in the union movement, and we are proud to add our new, unified voice in support of all workers in this country,” said SAG-AFTRA co-president Roberta Reardon.
SAG-AFTRA co-president Ken Howard said, “This charter represents the start of a new chapter for our organization, facing new challenges in a changing entertainment and media landscape but also presenting limitless opportunities.”
Merger backers — led by Reardon and Howard — asserted during the merger campaign that the combined SAG-AFTRA would increase bargaining strength, resolve jurisdictional questions and represent a first step toward combining the health and retirement plans in order to solve the problem of performers not qualifying for coverage under the separate SAG and AFTRA plans. Both have been attending the AFL-CIO executive council meetings as VPs of that group, which provided support for the merger campaign.
“Today the AFL-CIO celebrates a new charter for a newly created union, SAG-AFTRA, that brings together two great unions committed to changing to meet the needs of the future,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. “The AFL-CIO commends the members and leaders for a process that gave every member a chance to weigh in — it’s union democracy at its best.”
SAG-AFTRA national exec director David White said Wednesday that chief aims of the union do not center on its celebrity members.
“A lot of people don’t realize what SAG-AFTRA does,” White said. “As the union that represents the world’s most recognizable faces, it’s easy to forget that our main focus is to ensure that middle-class working performers are provided fair compensation and safe working conditions. Only a small fraction of our 165,000 members are high-profile stars; the rest are dedicated professionals who work hard to feed their families and pay their mortgages.”