SAG, AFTRA project red ink, recovery

Hunt, Helgenberger join anti-merger list

SAG and AFTRA have projected that the new Alliance of Intl. Media Artists will operate in the red for two years followed by significantly improved financial health over the next three years if the proposed merger goes through.

In an unpublicized forecast buried within one of eight documents mailed recently to members, the unions disclosed that they expect AIMA expenses to hit $78.3 million against $70.4 million in revenue during the transition fiscal year ending next April 30 due to the one-time costs of combining the unions.

Expenses will then drop by nearly $10 million to $68.6 million in the following fiscal year while revenues decline to $67.4 million. Revenues and expenses will match in fiscal 2006 at $64.3 million each, while revenue gains will lead to a surplus of $2.1 million in 2007 and $3.4 million in 2008.

Backers of the merger have contended that combining operations will lead to significant cost savings. SAG and AFTRA share jurisdiction in parts of film, TV and commercials and about 44,000 of SAG’s 98,000 members also belong to AFTRA.

The $7.9 million deficit for 2004 plus a $6 million capital investment will drop the projected cash position from $19.4 million at the start of the current fiscal year to $7.7 million in April 2004. The cash figure is projected to rise to $8.8 million in 2005, $9.4 million in 2006, $13.1 million in 2007 and $18.2 million in 2008.

SAG’s finances have been an issue in the merger campaigning with the Guild projecting a current deficit of $6 million while opponents, led by SAG treasurer Kent McCord, contend the actual figure is $2.6 million.

AFTRA’s projected fiscal 2003 deficit is $2 million, based on $25.1 million of expenses and $23.1 million of revenue.

In another development, thesps Helen Hunt and Marg Helgenberger joined the list of those campaigning against the merger. Hunt had endorsed last year’s proposed revamp of SAG’s master franchise agreement.

Ballots for the deal, which will create AIMA and affiliates for actors, broadcasters and recording artists, go out June 9 with 60% approval needed from voters in both unions.

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