SAG/AFTRA Merger Campaigns Go Multi-Modal
The campaigns for and against SAG/AFTRA merger heated up Tuesday, as the unions released a celebrity-studded postcard set to drop in the mail by the end of the week. Urging members to vote Yes on merger are the high-wattage visages of several dozen stars, including Alec Baldwin, Lewis Black, Amy Brenneman, George Clooney, Jon Cryer, Robert De Niro, Danny DeVito, Sally Field, Tom Hanks, William H. Macy, RJ Mitte, Octavia Spencer, Betty White andRainn Wilson.
Additional supporters, both high-pro and less so, are listed on the unions’ joint website. Meanwhile, celebs opposed include Scott Bakula, Elliott Gould, Valerie Harper, Ed Harris and Martin Sheen, all of whom signed an opposition statement that’s included in the merger ballot packet. The ballot packet also includes the names of the 63 SAG board members and 68 AFTRA board members who voted thumbs up on merger, and the eight and three, respectively, who said no.
The postcard won’t be the unions’ first snail-mail missive for merger: residuals envelopes of late have included not just the member’s check, but also an insert listing four arguments for merger.
Some opponents have cried foul, contending that residuals envelopes should be a merger-free zone. They’ve also been frustrated to find that SAG film society screenings lately have included a pro-merger slide projected on the screen before the movie starts.
The campaign is in full swing on PC and smartphone screens as well, with actors from Hawaii Five-O, Modern Family and General Hospital recording short pro-merger videos and SAG membersDave Clennon, Scott Wilson and others offering a longer segment on why they’re opposed. The unions are also offering a members-only live streaming video event today (Wednesday) from 4:00-6:00 p.m. PT.
Merger opponents are forceful – and may yet sue to block or delay the referendum scheduled to begin next week and run through March 30 – but there’s as yet no evidence that they’re numerous. Recent anti-merger rallies have attracted only about 30 picketers, which contrasts with four years of increasingly strong – and ultimately overwhelming – electoral support for pro-merger board and officer candidates.
That said, get out the vote efforts may be key. Turnout in the SAG officer and board elections has been around 25% for the past few years, meaning that many members don’t bother to vote. If merger opponents can persuade enough of them to turn in their ballots – and mark No – they could deny proponents the necessary 60% affirmative vote needed for merger to pass. So far, though, there’s no evidence of an anti-merger boomlet.