Protestors Gather Outside SAG Office to Slam AFTRA Merger

Roughly 35 guild members gather on Wilshire Boulevard, waving signs and handing out pamphlets protesting the proposed SAG-AFTRA merger

Roughly 35 Screen Actors Guild members gathered outside the union's office on Wilshire Boulevard on Thursday to protest a proposed merger with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. 

Carrying signs and handing out pink flyers, the SAG members demanded answers to questions about how combining the two unions will impact their health and pension benefits and how the organization will be governed. 

Also read: SAG, AFTRA Release Details of Proposed Merger

“I really shouldn’t care because I’ve got my pension and it’s guaranteed. But the kids coming along, it’s not,” Terrence Basor, an actor and 30-year SAG member, told TheWrap.

Basor echoed the concerns of a group of SAG members who fear that their better funded union will have to cut back on benefits once it takes on AFTRA members. They also maintain that the merged entity will give AFTRA a disproportionate amount of influence. 

"It will be run by convention so we basically lose our vote," Paul Edney, an actor and 10-year SAG member, said.  "They incorporated in Delaware so we can't sue management and the laws in Delaware favor management."

SAG's leadership maintains that the merged union will have more bargaining leverage with studios and other employers — a key factor in hammering out future agreements. 

Some protestors said that they felt that the guild's leadership was ramming the merger through without informing their members about the ramifications of pooling their resources with AFTRA. 

"I was a pro wrestler for most of my life and they would say that it was a farce," Hank Garrett, a 56-year SAG member. "Well this is a farce."

The boards of both unions approved the merger at the end of January. For the merger to take place, however, at least 60 percent of votes cast from each union must favor the consolidation.

SAG and AFTRA will send merger referendum ballots to members around Feb. 27. Ballots must be returned by March 30.

The guild members at Thursday's protest said they plan to have a similar demonstration next week.