Citing the need for unity at upcoming negotiations, more than 240 supporters of a SAG-AFTRA merger have launched a PR campaign to revive the push to combine the performers unions.
“We, as members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild, appeal to our fellow actors to come together with one strong voice through both of our unions as negotiations approach,” said the thesps — all dual cardholders — in advertisements appearing today.
Backers include former SAG presidents Melissa Gilbert, Barry Gordon, Richard Masur and William Schallert and current AFTRA prexy Roberta Reardon. AFTRA tried unsuccessfully in 1999 and 2004 to merge with SAG; in both cases, AFTRA members backed the deal but SAG members voted it down amid concerns that SAG would lose its autonomy and that combining the respective pension and health plans would be difficult.
Move comes amid increased tensions between SAG and AFTRA, with SAG pressuring AFTRA over signing TV deals at less favorable terms in areas of joint coverage. SAG’s also planning to institute bloc voting among its members on the negotiating committee at upcoming film-TV contract negotiations.
SAG president Alan Rosenberg said, “The Screen Actors Guild applauds unity and solidarity among union actors in support of the best possible compensation and working conditions.”
For its part, AFTRA’s been seeking to become a direct affiliate of the AFL-CIO by withdrawing from another labor org — the Associated Actors and Artistes of America, in which it’s partnered with SAG and other entertainment unions.