Union news: AFTRA approves merger with SAG

Hollywood’s two big acting unions just took another step toward a significant merger. The National Board of Directors of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, or AFTRA — which oversees more than 70,000 actors, broadcasters, singers, and dancers — voted Saturday to recommend a merger with the Screen Actors Guild by 94 percent. The vote comes a day after the SAG National Board of Directors voted in favor of approving the merger package by 87 percent.

Members of AFTRA and SAG (which oversees 120,000 members) will now vote on the merger after Feb. 27. More than 60 percent of the actors need to approve it in order to create a merged union that would be called SAG-AFTRA.

SAG National President Ken Howard said in a release:

This is a terrific outcome and I offer my sincere thanks and congratulations to AFTRA’s National Board  and National President Roberta Reardon. Professional performers are now an important step closer to the strongest union representation possible. Just as our boards have, I believe our members will decisively approve this merger and that SAG-AFTRA will be a leader in shaping the entertainment and media industries.

The proposed merger is expected to be addressed at tonight’s SAG Awards that will be telecast on TNT. 

The AFTRA National Board unanimously voted to recommend the terms of the 2011-2014 Network Television Code agreement to AFTRA members for ratification. Ballots on the Network Television Code will go out on Monday, Jan. 30 with a return date of Feb. 22.

AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon said this in release:

I applaud the AFTRA National Board for their overwhelming approval of this historic merger package. The partnership we formed on the G1 was one of collegiality and consensus that went into laying the foundation for a new union. This plan embodies the thoughtful work and valuable perspectives from large and small markets across the nation of many working actors, broadcast professionals, recording artists and other performers who all worked together in solidarity through the G1. I thank the G1 for their good work, and the National Boards for their approval and we will now present this plan to the members of AFTRA and SAG for their review and approval.

We now have the opportunity to finally stand united through one union to secure more union work and better benefits for our members, and for the generations of entertainment and media professionals who follow us.

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