If you watched the SAG Awards last night, SAG President and upcoming guest-star on The Young and the Restless, Ken Howard, revealed that the two acting unions, SAG and AFTRA were very close to an approved merger, as both union boards have approved the merger. Now, it goes to its members for the final vote.
Seems many stars are mostly in favor of the merger and some cautious, according to Deadline.com, “The view of the pending SAG-AFTRA merger on the red carpet before last night’s SAG Awards was mixed. Supporters far outnumbered detractors but many were cautious in their enthusiasm and concerned about potential hidden traps in the deal’s fine print. About 10% of the attendees, including SAG president Ken Howard and Alec Baldwin, wore SAG-AFTRA One Union lapel pins. Leading the support was Meryl Streep, who replied, ”The merger? I’m in favor of it.” Added Kenneth Branagh: “I do think that the whole debate has been very passionate. My feeling has been, as a 20-year guild member and as a member of AFTRA, to observe that the people are trying to protect the rights of actors and those who work in our business. So that ultimately is the end here. Democracy has to be at work here. People have to take their own view on it. And this has to be very rigorously scrutinized and it will be.”
The vote was 94%-6% in favor. The AFTRA National Board’s resolution will provide for the referendum material to be mailed to AFTRA members on or about Feb. 27, 2012, with a ballot return and tabulation deadline of March 30, 2012.
This time frame was created to avoid interfering with the ratification period for AFTRA members to vote on the tentative agreement for the AFTRA Network Television Code (“Front of the Book”) – the union’s largest contract that covers programming in all television day parts (except for scripted primetime programs on the major networks and the CW, which are covered under the AFTRA Exhibit A contract) and programming produced for digital media.
The AFTRA National Board unanimously voted to recommend the terms of the 2011-2014 Network Television Code agreement to AFTRA members for ratification. Ballots on the Network Television Code will go out on Monday, Jan. 30 with a return date of Feb. 22.
The Merger package outlines the merger plan, dues and finance structure, membership requirements and other basic attributes of the successor union, including the proposed name for the new union, which is SAG-AFTRA.
“I applaud the AFTRA National Board for their overwhelming approval of this historic merger package. The partnership we formed on the G1 was one of collegiality and consensus that went into laying the foundation for a new union. This plan embodies the thoughtful work and valuable perspectives from large and small markets across the nation of many working actors, broadcast professionals, recording artists and other performers who all worked together in solidarity through the G1,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon. “I thank the G1 for their good work, and the National Boards for their approval and we will now present this plan to the members of AFTRA and SAG for their review and approval.
“We now have the opportunity to finally stand united through one union to secure more union work and better benefits for our members, and for the generations of entertainment and media professionals who follow us,” she added.
On Friday, the SAG National Board of Directors overwhelmingly approved the same merger package with a vote of 87.1% – 12.9%. With AFTRA’s vote, a referendum will be sent out for a vote by members of both unions.
In voting for the package, AFTRA National Board members passed a resolution that read, in part:
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the National Board, in accordance with its authority under AFTRA’s Constitution, approves the merger documents and the merger of AFTRA and SAG into SAG-AFTRA, a unified, powerful union committed to organizing all work in our jurisdictions, negotiating the best wages, working conditions and health and pension benefits, preserving and expanding our members’ work opportunities, vigorously enforcing our contracts and protecting our members against the unauthorized use of their work; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Article XX of AFTRA’s Constitution is interpreted so as not to apply to a transaction, such as this merger, in which all of AFTRA’s rights, liabilities, contracts and collective bargaining agreements will be assumed, without impairment or interruption, by a successor union; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the National Board expresses its deepest gratitude to and commends the members of AFTRA’s New Union Committee and AFTRA’s staff for their herculean efforts and extraordinary work in completing the merger documents and concluding the merger negotiations.
The G1 began meeting in June of 2011 and held a total of five rounds of meetings to create the successor union merger package. The meetings followed an historic Listening Tour conducted by AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon and SAG National President Ken Howard. The G1 voted to approve the merger package on Jan. 16.
The Network Television Code contract generates more than $250 million a year in member earnings and covers a variety of media and entertainment professionals, including sportscasters, broadcasters, actors, singers and talk show hosts. Current programs covered by this contract include: “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “The Voice,” The Young and the Restless,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Nightline,” “Dancing with the Stars,” and “Late Show with David Letterman.”
So just how will this impact soap operas and their stars? Stay tuned!