SAG votes down merger

The Screen Actors Guild has voted not to merge with the American Federation
of Television and Radio Artists to create a new umbrella organization.

While a majority of the SAG ballots (57.78%) and a strong majority of AFTRA
ballots (75.88%) approved the meld, it required a 60% majority from both unions
for passage.

The merger had been pitched in part as a consolidation to match the further
consolidation of the industry -- increasing negotiating power to match the
studios' increasing power -- but there had been some member concerns about the
logistics of merging pension and health plans.

An obviously disappointed SAG president Melissa Gilbert said in a statement
following the results: "Consolidation has been defeated by a minority of the
members of the Screen Actors Guild. Notwithstanding that 57.78% of the
membership believed that the union’s best chance for success at the bargaining
table was to join with AFTRA to form a united front, we shall now proceed to
implement plans for SAG to continue operating alone ... While it is our hope to
avoid conflict with our sister union in the difficult days to come, it is
obviously impossible to predict the outcome."

AFTRA president John Connolly and executive director Greg Hessinger said in a
joint statement: "Those of us who helped create, formulate and promote this
consolidation plan, and who believed passage was in the best interest of both
organizations are, of course, disappointed with these results ... The concept of
combining actors, broadcasters and recording artists into a single powerful
union made perfect sense to our members because of AFTRA’s historical breadth
and fully integrated locals."

They said AFTRA's immediate agenda will include "the ongoing struggle to stem
media deregulation by the FCC [Federal Communications Commission]," as well as its upcoming national convention in

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.