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Screen Actors Guild Board Approves Merger With AFTRA

The two main Hollywood acting guilds to finally merge after years of discussion

The merger of Hollywood's two leading acting unions, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, moved closer to reality after SAG's national board approved the measure on Friday.

The vote was approved: 87.1% to 12.9%.

AFTRA's national board will likely vote on the package on Saturday, which will still require a referendum by the membership of both unions. The combined entity would be called SAG-AFTRA.

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SAG made the following announcement:

“It was moved and seconded that the National Board of Directors, on the recommendation of the Merger Task Force, approves the proposed Merger Agreement between Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and further approves the proposed SAG-AFTRA Constitution. The National Board directs that the proposed Constitution and Merger Agreement be submitted for membership approval by mailed ballot referendum, in cooperation with AFTRA. The referendum materials and ballot shall be mailed on or about February 27, 2012, with a ballot return and tabulation deadline of March 30, 2012.”

The same merger package must now be approved by AFTRA’s National Board of Directors which is scheduled to meet on Saturday. An AFTRA statement said a referendum will be sent out for a vote by members of both unions in the coming weeks.

In 2003, nearly 58 percent of SAG members voted to merge the two – a clear majority but short of the supermajority actually needed to proceed.

AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon said:

“I would like to congratulate the SAG National Board members on overwhelmingly approving the merger plan proposal at their meeting today, and I look forward to our discussion tomorrow at the AFTRA National Board meeting.” 

The proposal has been in the works for months.

Last year, AFTRA’s New Union Committee and SAG’s Merger Task Force formed a joint committee called the "G1," or Group for One Union. That committee broke into study groups, which examined governance and structure, finance and dues, collective bargaining, pension, health and retirement, operations and staff and member education and outreach.

The G1 spent nine days this month working on its recommendations for a merger. The SAG and AFTRA boards now will vote on the package that G1 developed.

SAG's president, Ken Howard, was elected on a pro-merger platform. His AFTRA counterpart, Roberta Reardon, also supports the merger.