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Letter to the editor

To the Editor:

This letter is in response to a news conference being held to oppose the proposed SAG-AFTRA merger by Tyne Daly, Esai Morales, Miguel Ferrer, Diane Ladd, Renee Taylor, Joe Bologna, Bonnie Bartlett, Valerie Harper, Kent McCord, William Daniels, Dick Van Patten and Frances Fisher.

I am sick and tired of the whining and complaining of this select group of high-profile SAG members who continually try to sabotage the progress and process of our Unions with fear and paranoia. You would think the resounding defeat and re-defeat of Valerie Harper and many of her cronies would be a strong message that the majority of the SAG membership rejects their platform. We also reject the lengths to which they will go in order to shove their opinions down everyone else’s throat.

Let me be perfectly blunt. Without a consolidation of SAG and AFTRA (and eventually Equity) we are dead. Anyone who does not see the writing on the wall is living with their head in the sand.

Without consolidation, we lose our ground bit by bit, day by day to the handful of conglomerates that now employ every actor, broadcaster and TV/radio performer in this country. They will come to rely on conflicts between AFTRA and SAG to undermine our bargaining power. We have only to look at Equity as an example of our fate. Our sister union is in dire distress. I can tell you that Equity and others are standing in line to join the AFTRA-SAG consolidation in the future should it be ratified and implemented. We are trying to patch a crack in the damn when the floodwaters are already pouring over the top.

We have been given ample opportunity to voice our opinions and concerns. The committees sought input from members in order to create a business plan, constitution and transition plan for both boards to consider on April 5 in Washington. To encourage participation, emails were sent to the membership, detailed information was posted on the SAG and AFTRA Web sites, along with feedback forms. Nothing was done in secret.

It is ultimately up to all members represented by both unions to make a final decision by referendum vote. The committees and boards carefully examined other alternatives — and they all had major drawbacks. They also sought advice from experts at the AFL-CIO to get a sense of what has worked for other unions. The result is a model tested in the labor movement but tailored to SAG and AFTRA — a solution that builds upon our unique histories and strengths while furthering our common interests and fully supported by the AFL-CIO leadership.

Matthew Solari

SAG, AFTRA, AEA

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