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UNIONS
Boards Approve AFTRA-SAG Merger;
Members To Vote; Entry Gate Narrows
January 30, 2012

(VOXtra) - By wide margins and as expected, the boards of AFTRA and SAG - the nation's major performer's unions - have voted to merge.

The plan for the new SAG-AFTRA goes to full membership votes in February.

But what exactly IS the plan? Officially, details are under wraps. Among chief concerns for voice actors are:
  • new membership requirements
  • new dues, and
  • new health and retirement plan contributions
AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) has been the easier union to join, and more voice actors belong to AFTRA than to SAG (Screen Actors Guild).

But speculation is that the entry gate will narrow, according a recent report in The Hollywood Reporter:

AFTRA’s open door policy – which allows anyone to join the union online by paying the initiation fee – will end if SAG and AFTRA merge, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. In its place will be new SAG-AFTRA rules that primarily mirror SAG’s existing ones – a set of requirements that have made a meme out of "How do I get my SAG card?”

In addition, the price is changing: at $3,000, the new initiation fee is higher than SAG’s $2,277 or AFTRA’s $1,600, but less than the two combined.

THE BOARDS' VOTES

The AFTRA Board vote on Jan. 28 was 94% to 6% in favor of the merger. A day earlier, 87.1% of SAG's board said "I Do."

AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon said in a statement that approval of the "historic merger package" presents "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."

SAG National President, actor Ken Howard, was jubilant, too.

"Professional performers are now an important step closer to the strongest union representation possible," he said.

"I believe our members will decisively approve this merger," he added, " and that SAG-AFTRA will be a leader in shaping the entertainment and media industries."

For more about each union, visit:

AFTRA: www.AFTRA.org
SAG: www.SAG.org

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Comments (3)
david mendez
2/2/2012 at 12:06 AM
"In addition, the price is changing: at $3,000, the new initiation fee is higher than SAG’s $2,277 or AFTRA’s $1,600, but less than the two combined."

WTF??? Thats not fair that people spent hard earned money to join both and now its going to be $877 cheaper???
steve hammill
1/31/2012 at 3:43 PM
I want to see it in black & white.

What happens when I come back from honorable withdrawal?

What's going to happen to my pension?

How much do you need to make to get health insurance?
Bettye Zoller
1/31/2012 at 11:11 AM
Thanks for this recap of important points. There will be many more to come.

I'm a 34-year veteran of both SAG and AFTRA. Over the years, my residual income from national commercials and other union projects has afforded me health insurances and pensions, dental, drug coverage, even vision, so much more.

I learned early that some union contract jobs went to SAG, others went to AFTRA, depending on which contract a producer or client chose to write them up on. I never understood how one made that decision but it wasn't mine to make. Thus, some years I earned more through SAG, other years, more through AFTRA, and some years, sweated qualification for benefits of one or the other or both. We had to qualify four times each year or the wonderful benefits were whisked away! And my children and husband had all these benefits too and it always was scary.

Now, I'm vested which means I'm not having to qualify quarterly anymore. But still, I love both unions.

What's my verdict on the proposed merger? I don't know! The verdict's out. Tell me more. It's "scary" once again. A lifetime of union membership and I'm entering the great unknown. All I can do is keep investigating and hope more info is forthcoming than has been the case thus far!
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