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Death by Committee: AFTRA's Trouble With Names

0516 yorktown
Would you rather have a New Union Committee or a Merger Task Force? On Saturday, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artist’s national board of directors voted to create the AFTRA New Union Committee. The new body will consist of 13 members (and 26 alternates), and work with its Screen Actors Guild counterpart, the SAG Merger Task Force, to develop a plan that will culminate in the unions holding hands and singing the 1996 Spice Girls hit “2 Become 1.” The two groups have been charged to hold their first joint meeting before the end of June and to have a merger plan in place to present to the boards of directors before the end of January. It’s all very exciting. For the first time since merger began being discussed again with seriousness in SAG-AFTRA circles in 2009, something resembling a concrete (or at least a wire mesh-and-stucco) timeline for the process exists. But one important question remains unanswered. Who is winning the contest for the better committee name?

Since AFTRA leaders released a letter last year calling for the creation of “one media and entertainment union for all actors, performers and broadcast journalists,” officials from both organizations have favored some variation on “single union” or “new union” over the word “merger.” The argument against the M-word is solid—“merger” didn’t happen in 1960, 1997, and 2003, so calling the current process by that name would be like starting a new professional sports franchise and calling it the New York Mets. Why associate yourself with abject failure when you don’t have to? The problem is that “one media and entertainment union for all actors, performers and broadcast journalists” is kind of an abstract idea. And “merger” is one word, which makes headline writing easier.

SAG appears to have finally given up on avoiding the word M-word, while AFTRA is hanging on to “new union.” That’s fine. Both have their merits. But the reason SAG’s committee is better than AFTRA’s (in name, anyway) is that SAG’s is a task force, not a committee. Task forces get stuff done. In World War II, U.S. Navy carrier task forces made victory in the Pacific theater possible. Do you think a U.S. Navy carrier committee could have done that? Of course not.

There is still time, however, for AFTRA to avoid finding itself on the boring side of history. An emergency plenary of the board of directors could be called, and the New Union Committee’s name changed to something with a little more panache—something like the New Union Commando Corps or SEAL Team Six. Sure, AFTRA still has important, non-merger things to do this year, such as negotiate an extension of its Network Code agreement and hold its national convention. But there has to be time, somewhere, for this pressing issue to be addressed.

Pictured: The USS Yorktown in 1943 (Photo: Getty Images)

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Comments

I would like to attend, because i do not belong and it (possibly) would be helfull for me.
I am not gonna lie, so i'll better say so.
I am looking for the betterment and possible outcams of being arrpund the people on the INDUSTRY.

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