The newly merged performer’s union now known as SAG-AFTRA has officially hung its banner in the membership lobby of 5757 Wilshire Blvd. A week ago, the votes were in from the memberships of both SAG and AFTRA, overwhelmingly approving a merger that created the new entity. SAG members voted 82 percent in favor, while AFTRA members approved it with an 86 percent majority, easily exceeding the 60 percent threshold needed for both unions’ membership for passage.
The merger became effective immediately, bringing under a single union banner more than 150,000 actors, announcers, broadcasters journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals.
“With this historic vote, members of both unions have affirmed one of the most basic principles of unionism: Together we are stronger,” said SAG-AFTRA national co-president Ken Howard. “This merger, the result of months – really years – of planning, brings together the best elements of both unions and positions us well to thrive in the changing 21st-century media landscape.”
“The merger of these two unions is a huge victory for our members, and it is a monumental achievement for the labor movement,” said SAG-AFTRA national co-president Roberta Reardon. “I invite all members, locally and nationally, to join with us in building a successor union worthy of AFTRA and SAG.”
As SAG president, Howard had been working with then AFTRA president Reardon on a merger plan since July 2010. The two leaders toured the nation to listen to the membership and facilitate discussion on establishing a common vision for a merged union. Last June, elected SAG and AFTRA leaders formed the Group for One Union and created work groups to break out the specifics of how the new entity would be organized.
Questions still remain about future governance and how the still-separate pension and health plans will be consolidated. But for now, the banner is hung, and SAG-AFTRA sets sail into the future.