AFL -CIO President Richard Trumka delivered a fiery kickoff to the first combined SAG-AFTRA convention Thursday, telling delegates that the merger has made them stronger and that the nation needs them at the forefront of the labor movement.
“American workers have dreams, and you in the entertainment and media industries have worked your magic to create and bring them into focus for us — but making those dreams come true will require good old-fashioned hard work and solidarity,” said Trumka in the keynote address.
He made the remarks at the JW Marriott hotel in downtown Los Angeles to a hall packed with more than 350 labor leaders and guests.
“Make no mistake” said Trumka, who has headed the nation’s largest organization since 2009, “your merger has made you stronger, and better equipped to fight.”
He cited the right-to-work movement, which prohibits required union membership, and what he called increasing corporate greed as the key fronts in the battle.
SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard had sounded a similar call when he opened the proceedings.
With our merger “we have planted the seeds of something great. The seeds are sprouting and may only grow to maturity after we are long gone,” he said. “The work we do right now, will nurture and grow our union so that it will bloom bright and beautiful, rich with opportunity and promise for all members.”
The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists merged in March of 2012, creating a union with more than 165,000 members.