Members of the Screen Actors (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) have overwhelmingly approved merging their unions into one, SAG/AFTRA, the unions announced this afternoon in Los Angeles.
The SAG/AFTRA merger approval required a 60 percent vote from each union. AFTRA members approved the merger by 86 percent and SAG members voted 82 percent in favor of the merger. AFTRA has some 70,000 members in the entertainment and news industries while SAG represents about 125,000 actors.
Months of discussions of the merger between the two unions included a “listening tour” by SAG President Ken Howard and AFTRA President Roberta Reardon. The two will now serve as co-presidents of the new union. Says Howard:
We have chosen a path of unity and strength....The members made it clear they wanted merger....You have sent a message to our employers. You have said loud and clear this is not a fractured group, this a united group, united in commitment to improve our wages, residuals and benefits our members depend on.
Reardon says the merger will help entertainment industry workers “as our industry evolves and changes.”
We can now meet that challenge and manage that change with a strong collective voice and unified strategy [and] establish and grow our presence in emerging areas of work.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says, “The AFL-CIO commends the members and leaders of these two great unions for a process that gave every member a chance to weigh in on this crucial decision. The participation shaping this outcome represents union democracy at its best."
Paul E. Almeida, president of the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees (DPE), says the merger is a “necessary and important step toward strengthening their collective voice” in an industry where:
corporate consolidation, globalization and new technologies have reshaped the arts, entertainment and media industries.