By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — The long-sought marriage of Hollywood’s two actors unions cleared another hurdle Saturday when the board of American Federation of Television and Radio Artists endorsed a plan to merge with the larger Screen Actors Guild.
As expected, the AFTRA board approved a recently-negotiated merger plan by 94 percent to 6 percent, echoing a similar endorsement on Friday by SAG’s national board.
The plan would create the largest entertainment union in Hollywood, combining the diverse memberships and cultures of two very different organizations that have talked about joining forces for decades.
SAG has 125,000 members who are actors, extras and stunt performers. AFTRA’s 70,000 members include actors, as well as singers, dancers, broadcast journalists and talk show hosts. The unions already have 40,000 members in common and are eager to consolidate to strengthen their negotiating clout.
With the approval of the their respective boards, the merger document — which includes a merger agreement, a proposed constitution and dues plan — will now go before members in a referendum vote to be held in coming weeks. The proposed new union is to be called SAG-AFTRA and probably will be touted Sunday night at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. SAG’s leadership has made merging with AFTRA a top priority.