SAG, AFTRA Release Details of Proposed Merger

The SAG and AFTRA boards approved the proposed merger last Friday and Saturday. Members of each union will vote on the matter in March

SAG and AFTRA on Tuesday provided details of their proposed merger agreement — including specifics on dues, membership requirements and strike provisions.

The Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists posted the information on their websites Tuesday night.

Importantly, the guilds also posted letters from health plan and pension experts who say that merging the guilds' benefit plans would result in a better plan.

Read the documents here

The SAG board approved the merger on Friday. AFTRA's approved it Saturday. Now, members of the unions will vote on the proposal.

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

Also read: AFTRA National Board Follows SAG, Approves Merger

"This will give each member ample time to make a thoughtful and well-informed decision," SAG president Ken Howard and AFTRA president Roberta Reardon wrote.

Howard and Reardon also wrote that they will soon launch a joint SAG-AFTRA website to that will include complete details, frequently asked questions and a calendar of events to let members know about informational meetings and "other opportunities for learning about the plan."

For the merger to pass, at least 60 percent of votes cast from each union must favor the consolidation.

On Tuesday, though, they posted three documents: The merger agreement itself, the proposed SAG-AFTRA constitution and a study about merging the pension and health plans of each union.

The merger agreement sets the new union's initiation fee at $3,000. The current SAG initiation fee is $2,277 and the AFTRA fee is $1,600.

Base dues will be $198 per year. It's now $116 per year for SAG and $128 per year for AFTRA. Work dues will be 1.575 percent of all earnings up to $500,000 earned under SAG-AFTRA collective bargaining agreements.

But there is an exception for members who work under a single-unit or freelance broadcaster agreement. Those members will pay 1.575 percent of their earnings up to $100,000, and another .274 percent of their earnings between $100,000 and $250,000.

Three years after the merger, initiation fees and base dues will increase by 2 percent.

The documents also spell out governance — the merged union, for instance, will start out with co-presidents, co-secretary-treasurers and board members from each union. They also will have co-national executive directors.

No later than September, 2013, the merged union will hold a convention to elect an executive vice president and vice presidents. The president and secretary-treasurer will be elected by a vote of the entire membership.

Under the proposed agreement, any SAG or AFTRA member in good standing will automatically become a member of the merged union.

But while now, AFTRA membership is open to anyone willing to pay the initiation fee, prospective members will have to meet conditions to join the merged union.

According to the proposed constitution, people will be eligible for membership if they have worked, are working or are about to work in a position covered by the guild. Background actors will have to have completed three days of work to be eligible. Anyone who the national board determines "is engaged in work that advances the union’s organizing efforts or general goals" will be eligible for membership.

Among the documents in a study about merging the health and pension plans were letters from consultants who said combining SAG's plan with AFTRA's could be beneficial to members.

One of the letters is from Charles A. Storke, a lawyer with the law firm Trucker Huss in San Francisco. Storke wrote that he has advised trustees in about a dozen such mergers.

"In each instance," he wrote, "the merged plans emerged stronger and more resilient than had they remained separate."

AFTRA's board voted 94 percent in favor of the merger. SAG's board voted 87.1 percent in favor.

Both Howard and Reardon support the merger.