SAG-AFTRA

Fall 2011

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A LETTER TO MEMBERS From SAG & AFTRA Presidents KEN HOWARD & ROBERTA REARDON "We are excited about the future because we are confident that SAG and AFTRA are on a path that will make us all stronger." Dear Members, National President Roberta Reardon and I would like to take this opportunity to address the members of both unions. Our move toward this fundamental goal began more than a year and a half ago, when leaders of SAG and AFTRA published letters in our respective magazines indicating a strong desire to find a path to a combined successor union. We've made remarkable progress since W then. Once a comprehensive merger plan has been completed, it will be presented to the SAG and AFTRA national boards for review. If our boards approve the plan, we fully expect that members of both unions will make the final decision about forming one union by voting in a referendum this coming spring. A┼┐ter more than six months of hearing directly from members during the Presidents' Forum for One Union Listening Tour, we believe you will greet this news with excitement. The input we gathered from across the country gave us invaluable insights into the ways members' work is changing and the challenges we're facing. More than anything, it became absolutely clear that members nationwide need and support the move to one union. ith SAG and AFTRA working hard to develop a plan to become one union, AFTRA There is wide recognition among members that uniting SAG and AFTRA is essential to increasing our bargaining strength. Members in all categories routinely work for the same handful of multinational corporations that control the entertainment and media industries. By dividing our work in several areas, our employers make it difficult for us to negotiate from a position of maximum strength. This also leaves us vulnerable to the dangerous possibility of competitive negotiations. Forming a single union ensures that we cannot be divided in our work or negotiations and that employers have just one place to get the skilled union talent they need. Uniting SAG and AFTRA will also improve our ability to organize. This is especially important in the areas of commercials, new media, interactive games, industrials and music, but also in cable news, and local and national radio and television broadcasting, where non-union work is a growing threat. An improved capacity for organizing is especially vital for broadcasters who, like actors, also need more union-covered work opportunities, and for strengthening our bargaining leverage in individual shops and across markets and employer groups. By focusing our resources and implementing a unified strategy, we can be more effective at turning non-union work into union jobs for members. Merger is vital to protecting our Health & Retirement/Pension & Health benefits. There are more than 60 SAG and AFTRA members involved in the work of the Group for One Union (G1), and every one of us knows how crucial those benefits are because we depend on them ourselves. As SAG and AFTRA have remained separate, our benefit plans have been forced to make painful changes; medical out-of- pocket costs have gone up while coverage has been reduced, pension accrual rates have come down and eligibility requirements have risen significantly. While world economic forces are beyond the control of any benefits plan, increasing our bargaining strength by uniting SAG and AFTRA is critical to maintaining and improving our benefit levels in the future. Forming one union will provide another tremendous advantage. Technology isn't just changing the way we work; it's also changing the way our employers make money. This is a golden opportunity to evaluate how we're addressing those changes and to systematically identify the areas where new approaches are needed. Doing that together, in one house, is the only practical way to create a unified strategy to capture our fair share of the profits 12 SCREEN ACTOR - Fall 2011 SAG.org

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