Los Angeles (August 1, 2012) — SAG-AFTRA today received a new, national charter from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. SAG-AFTRA joins 55 other unions, comprising more than 12 million working men and women, under the AFL-CIO banner.
"With workers’ rights under attack nationwide, this charter represents a bright spot in the union movement and we are proud to add our new, unified voice in support of all workers in this country,” said SAG-AFTRA Co-President Roberta Reardon. “We are delighted to join with workers across the nation, and reaffirm the mission we share with the AFL-CIO: to ensure workers are treated fairly.”
“This is a terrific capstone to the historic merger of SAG and AFTRA and we are proud to receive a charter from America’s labor federation, the AFL-CIO, and we thank President Richard Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, and the members of the Executive Council,” said SAG-AFTRA Co-President Ken Howard. “This charter represents the start of a new chapter for our organization, facing new challenges in a changing entertainment and media landscape, but also presenting limitless opportunities.”
“Today the AFL-CIO celebrates a new charter for a newly created union, SAG-AFTRA, that brings together two great unions committed to changing to meet the needs of the future,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The AFL-CIO commends the members and leaders for a process that gave every member a chance to weigh in — it’s union democracy at its best. I look forward to the continued leadership of SAG-AFTRA Co-Presidents Ken Howard and Roberta Reardon on the AFL-CIO Executive Council.”
“A lot of people don’t realize what SAG-AFTRA does,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White. “As the union that represents the world’s most recognizable faces, it’s easy to forget that our main focus is to ensure that middle-class working performers are provided fair compensation and safe working conditions.
“Only a small fraction of our 165,000 members are high-profile stars, the rest are dedicated professionals who work hard to feed their families and pay their mortgages. As workers in any other industry, they deserve the rights and protections that only a labor union provides.”
The charter was presented at the morning session of the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting in Washington, D.C., ushering in a new era for the union movement and the entertainment and media industries. It authorizes the new union “to conduct the affairs of said union in furtherance of the best interest of the AFL-CIO and of labor in general.” SAG and AFTRA received their first charters through the Associated Actors and Artistes of America in the mid-1930s. AFTRA received its direct charter on February 3, 2008.
For decades, Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have been fighting for workplace protections for actors, stunt performers, broadcasters and all entertainment and media performers working in front of a camera or behind a microphone.
AFTRA was created (as AFRA) in August 1937 with the support of top radio stars. The union began with 400 members in two Locals, and by December of that year, the ranks had swelled to 2,000 and the union covered 90 percent of all radio artists in key broadcast cities. In 1952, AFRA merged with the Television Authority to create AFTRA, and since then, it has covered a wide spectrum of performers, from those who worked on scripted dramas and comedies in both radio and television to those who provide voices and performance capture for the latest video games.
SAG organized in 1933 for the protection of motion picture actors and the betterment of working conditions. Soon, some of the biggest Hollywood stars of the day were supporting the new union, including James Cagney, Eddie Cantor, Joan Crawford, Edward G. Robinson and Fredric March. Over the years, SAG expanded coverage to scripted primetime television and commercial actors as well as non-broadcast, videogame and new media performers. The Guild would go on to mark a number of milestones, including being led by Ronald Reagan, the only U.S. president to have ever previously served as the president of a union.
Caption: In a ceremony in Washington, DC on August 1, 2012, the AFL-CIO granted a charter to SAG-AFTRA. From left, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth H. Shuler, SAG-AFTRA Co-President Roberta Reardon, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, SAG-AFTRA Co-President Ken Howard, and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker. Photo Credit: Sharon Farmer/sfphotoworks