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SAG-AFTRA Gearing Up For Commercials Contract Talks

Preps for first negotiations under the SAG-AFTRA banner and post-merger consolidation dominate national board meeting

Merger housekeeping and preparations for next year's commercials contract talks with the ad industry dominated SAG-AFTRA's two-day national board of directors meeting, which ended Sunday.

The talks with the ad industry will be the first major negotiation under the SAG-AFTRA banner and will be seen by many as a barometer of how much negotiating clout has been added by the seven-month-old merger. The talks are scheduled to begin in late January; the current contract expires on March 31.

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Roberta Reardon, co-president with Ken Howard, reported that member meetings leading up the commercials negotiations have been concluded. At the behest of assistant national executive director for contracts and co-lead negotiator Ray Rodriguez, the board approved adding seven alternate members to the wages and working conditions committees setting strategy for the talks.Their proposals will be reviewed for adoption on Nov. 17 and 18 in Los Angeles.

With the merger approved and the process of integrating operations of the two unions well under way, the board discussed the consolidation of locals nationwide. When the unions merged in March, every location in which either Screen Actors Guild or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists had an office became a local of SAG-AFTRA. In streamlining the organization, the original 33 locals were consolidated into 25.

The national Board unanimously voted to approve the following locals: Atlanta, Arizona-Utah, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas-Fort Worth, Hawaii, Houston-Austin, Los Angeles, Miami, Michigan, Missouri-Kansas City-Nebraska, Nashville, Nevada, New England, New Orleans, New Mexico, New York, Ohio Allegheny, Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco-Northern California, Seattle, Twin Cities and Washington-Mid Atlantic.

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When the union's permanent governance structure is in place in September 2013, the number of national board seats allotted for the 25 locals will be 70. The two largest locals, Los Angeles and New York, will have 28 and 16 board members respectively. The 10 national officers also serve on the SAG-AFTRA national board bringing its total size to 80.

National executive director David White updated the board on the union’s operations including a report on the union's voluntary severance program, which saw 80 staffers exit via buyouts last month.

The current leaders of SAG-AFTRA — drawn from the two unions — will be up for election for the first time next summer, when the new union's first-ever convention will be held in September.