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SAG and AFTRA Officially Commence Merger Discussions

Last weekend, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild met for the first official discussions between each union's merger committee, the SAG Merger Task Force and the AFTRA New Union Committee, at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Md.

These committees, which are jointly called the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA Group for One Union, or G1, have an approved mission statement to forge a plan to consolidate the two unions. To move toward that goal, the G1 created a series of work groups to analyze concerns raised by union members in six areas: governance and structure; finance and dues; collective bargaining; pension, health and retirement; operations and staff; and member education and outreach.

Those groups will meet throughout 2011 and make recommendations to the G1 regarding how a newly combined union should address the concerns. The G1 will then approve the suggestions and integrate them into the merger agreement, national constitution, and uniform dues structure that each union's national board will review this January.

In a joint statement, SAG president Ken Howard and AFTRA National president Roberta Reardon commended the unions' first meeting, saying: "We applaud the members and staff of our two unions for their incredible solidarity and vision during this intense and substantive weekend. We know the members of the successor union will be well served by their diligent and hard work during the months to come."

Susan J. Schurman, a professor at Rutgers' School of Management and Labor Relations, and labor consultant Peter S. DiCicco facilitated the weekend's meeting. AFTRA and Screen Actors Guild Group for One Union will next convene Aug. 27-28 in New York City.

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