LOS ANGELES (February 28, 2012) - The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Screen Actors Guild on Monday sent out ballots to approximately 131,000 members of both organizations.
The mailer included full details of the proposed SAG-AFTRA merger, including the Merger Agreement and Constitution, which were overwhelmingly approved by both unions’ national boards in January, as well as a Pension & Health/Health & Retirement Feasibility Report.
Members may also review the ballot package at SAGAFTRA.org, view a livestream informational meeting on Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT, and attend upcoming local informational meetings to ask questions. Ballots must be received at the assigned post office box no later than 10 a.m. PDT, March 30.
“I'm excited and grateful that we now have the opportunity to make this pivotal choice about our future,” said SAG National President Ken Howard. “More than ever, SAG and AFTRA members understand that being divided hurts us, and coming together in one union will strengthen us in every way. This merger will make SAG-AFTRA the largest, most powerful union in the entertainment and media industries -- and it couldn't come at a better time.”
“Working closely together, the leaders of AFTRA and SAG crafted a plan for the merged union members told us they wanted,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon. “A yes vote ensures a strong future for all members who work in the entertainment and media industries. Now is their chance to secure that vision for themselves and for future generations.”
More than 1,100 members of both unions have already signed a statement of support to endorse the effort to merge the unions, saying it will bolster leverage in bargaining future contracts, and is an important first step toward combining pension and health programs. Those names can be found at SAGAFTRA.org.
Among those showing their solidarity are Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Leslie Bibb, Lewis Black, Amy Brenneman, Rosanne Cash, George Clooney, Peter Coyote, Jon Cryer, Dana Delany, Seamus Dever, Danny DeVito, Robert Di Niro, Bob Edwards, Michael Emerson, Mike Farrell, Sally Field, Jenna Fischer, Kate Flannery, Pete Fornatale, Brad Garrett, Melissa Gilbert, Chris Gorham, Tom Hanks, Hill Harper, Dulé Hill, Jon Huertas, Felicity Huffman, Sam Jaeger, Zeljko Ivanek, Jane Kaczmarek, Joe Krebs, Sharon Lawrence, William H. Macy, Wendie Malick, Josh Malina, RJ Mitte, Alfred Molina, Oscar Nunez, Rhea Perlman, Ron Perlman, Sam Rubin, Chris Sarandon, Tony Shalhoub, William Shallert, Kurtwood Smith, Yeardley Smith, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Jon Turturro, Lisa Vidal, Marcia Wallace, Kate Walsh, Betty White and Rainn Wilson, to name a few.
To see a full list of supporters, click here.
The following is a sampling of messages from union members in support of merger:
“I fully support this merger. We need to unite — in numbers there is strength.”
Leslie Bibb, actor
“An actor is an actor is an actor — on television, stage or radio. The divisions of representation hurt and weaken us, allowing us to be divided, and giving us each smaller pools for insurance and pensions. It's past time that we come together and hammer out the difficulties of a merger.”
Peter Coyote, actor
"I am a reporter, trained to base my conclusions on facts. While being part of the committee that crafted the constitution and by-laws, I became convinced this is a good deal for all SAG and AFTRA members.."
Bob Butler, broadcaster
Wendie Malick, actor
“I am confident that the merger of SAG and AFTRA can only bode well in future negotiations. Solidarity brings strength.”
Chris Sarandon, actor
"The merger is long overdue and will benefit middle class actors who are tired of paying double dues and fees. It will benefit broadcasters for giving us a larger voice in negotiating with companies who continue to make more and more money from new technology and not paying the people who create that content. It will benefit everyone once the pension and health plans are merged. It only makes sense."
Mark Katic, Sportscaster