By Dave McNary
Will the third time be a charm for merging the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists?
The oft-debated issue is now in the hands of members following approvals by the national boards, with 87% of SAG's panel backing the proposal Friday and 94% of AFTRA's doing the same on Saturday.
The proposal goes to a vote by SAG and AFTRA members starting Feb. 27, with tabulation on March 30 -- although the official campaign to merge is expected to start in the next few days. Even though not required to do so, both boards agreed to allow inclusion of opposition statements in the balloting materials.
The boards have also agreed to suspend the unions' 2008 "nondisparagement" agreement, which barred elected reps of each union from making any public statements that were disparaging toward the other. SAG had agreed to the pact to patch up its relationship with AFTRA after AFTRA had split off from SAG in the 2008 primetime negotiations.
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SAG, AFTRA Boards OK Merger