Spring 2011

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ONE UNION UPDATE SAG, AFTRA Boards Vote to Move Forward with Merger One Union Plan to be Presented January 2012 T he proposed merger of Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has reached a milestone, with both organizations approving the creation of formal merger groups and a joint mission statement for a successor union. On April 30, the SAG National Board of Directors approved a resolution to create a 13-member Merger Task Force that will meet with AFTRA representatives no later than June 2011 to develop a comprehensive plan to merge the unions. Members were drawn from those who served on the Guild’s SAG/AFTRA Relations Task Force. Likewise, AFTRA’s National Board of Directors voted overwhelmingly May 14 to create its own committee to work with SAG’s task force to hammer out merger details. The task force and committee are directed to present the plan to the national boards of both unions in January 2012. Leadership from both unions voiced strong support for the plan. SAG President Ken Howard, who will lead the SAG task force, said, “The message from SAG and AFTRA members across the country has been clear — they want this done as soon as possible. If our boards approve the merger plan in January, our members will make the final decision through a referendum vote less than a year from now. I’m extremely grateful for the unanimous support of the SAG National Board. I also want to thank AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon, whose remarkable leadership has been essential in bringing us to this point.” Screen Actors Guild National Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino said, “As treasurer, and as a member of both unions, I could not be more heartened. Not only will creation of one union increase our bargaining leverage, it will allow us to pool our resources to give members the protection they need by actively enforcing contracts and organizing new work.” Screen Actors Guild 1st Vice President and Hollywood Division Chair Ned Vaughn said, “The entertainment industry is undergoing a transformation, and the only way for middle-class performers to remain strong is to have one union fighting for 12 SCREEN ACTOR - Spring 2011 them with a unified strategy. I’m excited to be a part of making that happen.” Screen Actors Guild 2nd Vice President and New York Division President Mike Hodge said, “The labor movement is under attack in this country. As performers, we have to fight back harder than ever before, and joining together in one union is the strongest way forward.” Screen Actors Guild 3rd Vice President and Regional Branch Division Chair David Hartley-Margolin said, “This is a crucial step toward creating a new national union for media workers— one that will embody many of the tenets members across the country have been embracing for decades, both philosophically and in practice. We are finally seeing a light at the end of a long, long tunnel.” AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon said, “I applaud and thank SAG President Ken Howard and the leadership of SAG for their deep commitment to this grassroots process, and for working with AFTRA to ensure that this effort is not just successful, but that it reflects the vision and the specific and direct input of working members from all of our categories in large and small markets across the nation.” The joint Presidents’ Forum for One Union has been meeting since October to discuss ways to combine the unions. Howard and Reardon embarked on a coast-to-coast listening tour to gauge members’ feelings about the proposal, hear their concerns and answer questions. The listening tour has made stops in Hollywood, New York, Chicago, Miami, Washington-Baltimore, Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia, with further meetings to come. The Presidents’ Forum met on April 2 and 3 in New York, where it initiated the board recommendations to create the formal merger groups and unanimously approved the draſt mission statement for a combined, successor union. It also conducted a comprehensive review of the feedback received to date from the listening tour, finding overwhelming support for bringing SAG and AFTRA together as a single union. Because the unions have not yet determined a name for a merged organization, “successor union” has been used as placeholder in the joint mission statement.

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