Stern supports merger

Radio personality goes public with approval

The King of All Media has blessed the proposed SAG-AFTRA consolidation and affiliation.

Howard Stern has become the latest high-profile performer to back the deal, which members will vote on starting next week. Stern read a letter on the air last week from SAG prexy Melissa Gilbert endorsing the merger, which would also create the Alliance of Intl. Media Artists with affiliates for actors, broadcasters and recording artists.

Other recent endorsers include the Bellamy Brothers, Charlie Daniels, Harvey Fierstein, Linda Fiorentino, Dorian Harwood, John Turturro, Leslie Uggams and Jackie Zeman.

Campaigning is expected to remain intensive this week, with ballots going out to 98,000 SAG members and 77,000 AFTRA members on June 9. The anti-deal SaveSAG group has set a rally at SAG’s Hollywood headquarters on Wednesday.

Recent callers to SAG who are put on hold have been hearing a recorded pitch for the “Power for Partnership,” backed by the song “Power,” written as an organizing campaign anthem by John McCucheon for the Intl. Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers. The ditty is performed by Joe Uehlein, director of strategic campaigns for the National AFL-CIO, and his band Bones of Contention.

The AFL-CIO has been heavily involved since last year in advising SAG and AFTRA leaders of the need to combine operations with the goals of increased clout in bargaining, avoiding jurisdictional disputes and more efficient administration. Opponents have contended that the deal will cause SAG to lose its autonomy and create another layer of bureaucracy.

SAG and AFTRA have told their 44,000 dual cardholders that their annual base dues will decline to $125 from $216 if the proposed merger goes through. Union members have recently received postcards from SAG board member James Cromwell with the message “Less dues. More power.”

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