HOLLYWOOD — Leaders of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have reaffirmed their commitment to merging with the Screen Actors Guild with little dissent.

The move was not a surprise, given that 76% of AFTRA voters endorsed the deal — well above a required 60%. The merger was scuttled as SAG membership support fell 2% short of the needed level.

Strong endorsement

AFTRA’s board, meeting at this week’s national convention in Nashville, Tenn., approved the resolution with only four no votes out of 88 cast.

SAG’s national board approved a similar resolution in mid-July, calling on the SAG AFTRA Relations Task Force to seek comment from members on possible modifications to the merger plan and to meet with the AFTRA Strategic Alliance Committee to consider their concerns.

If voters had approved the union, a Alliance of Intl. Media Artists would have been formed, with affiliates for actors, broadcasters and recording artists.

Teaming up

Proponents claim that combining SAG and AFTRA would lead to greater bargaining clout and operating efficiencies along with resolving jurisdictional disputes. The merger backers received extensive help from the AFL-CIO, which strongly favors combining unions that have similar jurisdictions.

But opponents argue that SAG would be a shell under the new structure; that the new org would be less responsive to the unique needs of actors; and that plans to subsequently merge the SAG and AFTRA health plans would be damaging to Actors Guild participants.

The AFL-CIO has already signaled that it will support another merger move. AFL-CIO prexy John Sweeney, who was an avid backer of the “consolidation and affiliation,” is the keynote speaker at today’s convention; and Paul Almeida, who heads the AFL-CIO’s department of professional employees, issued a letter to AFTRA prexy John Connolly saying the org would offer any help needed.