Los Angeles Business Journal

SAG, AFTRA Vote to Merge

By Jonathan Polakoff Friday, March 30, 2012

The Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists on Friday announced that a merger of the unions was approved by both memberships.

The joint union becomes Hollywood’s largest talent organization. Called SAG-AFTRA, it will combine SAG’s 120,000 TV and film actors with AFTRA’s 70,000 singers, newscasters and other entertainers and broadcasters. About 45,000 people were already members of both unions.

Eighty-two percent of SAG voters and 86 percent of AFTRA voters approved the merger. A 60 percent ‘yes’ vote was required.

Board members said the union will provide greater bargaining power in both traditional and new media. Previous attempts at merger in 1999 and 2003 were unsuccessful. Earlier this year, leadership at both unions agreed on a merger proposal that was then sent to members for approval. The results of the vote were announced Friday at SAG’s Miracle Mile headquarters.

“With this historic vote, members of both unions have affirmed one of the most basic principles of unionism: Together we are stronger,” SAG-AFTRA National Co-President Ken Howard said in a statement. “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.”