Coolidge joins SAG-AFTRA supporters

East and West branches have yet to weigh in on merger

Directors Guild of America president Martha Coolidge has become the latest high-profile Hollywood player to endorse the SAG-AFTRA merger, although the DGA has not taken an official position.

Coolidge’s name surfaced Thursday as an addition to the backers of “consolidation and affiliation” who are members of SAG and AFTRA. She has an acting credit as a security guard in 1994’s “Beverly Hills Cop III,” in addition to helming more than two dozen features and telepics.

Three unions have blessed the SAG-AFTRA combo — Actors Equity Assn., the American Federation of Musicians and the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — which would create the Alliance of Intl. Media Artists with affiliates for actors, broadcasters and recording artists. Actors Equity is expected to join AIMA eventually, while AFM prexy Thomas Lee has said his union has no plans to do so.

Writers Guild unaligned

Like the DGA, the East and West branches of the Writers Guild of America have not weighed in on the merits of the proposal. A quartet of stunt performer orgs — Intl. Stunt Assn., Stunts Unlimited, Stuntman’s Assn. and Stuntwoman’s Assn. — have announced they oppose the deal.

Proponents and opponents of the merger have been campaigning actively in anticipation of the June 9 mailing of ballots to 98,000 SAG members and 77,000 AFTRA members. At least 60% of voters in both unions will have to approve it for the deal to go through.

‘Minority report’ issued

The anti-merger SaveSAG group held a fundraiser Wednesday night at the home of Connie Stevens, partly to cover costs of printing and mailing an unofficial “minority report” to be sent to SAG voters. Such a report would have been automatically issued if more than 25% of the SAG national board had dissented in its approval of the deal last month, but only 13% of the board members did so.

Key issue for proponents has been the need to achieve better contracts by bringing more clout to the bargaining table and operate more efficiently. Opponents have stressed that SAG may lose its autonomy and warned the new structure will be less responsive to members.

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