SAG President Ken Howard Extols AFTRA Merger at SAG Awards

7:05 PM PST 01/29/2012 by Jonathan Handel
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Earlier in the day, Howard and AFTRA president Roberta Reardon urged members in an email to “embrace this singular chance to harness the true power of unity.”

Declaring that a “historic moment of unity is at hand,” SAG president Ken Howard kicked off the public campaign for merger with a flourish that drew repeated applause at the high profile SAG Awards Sunday.

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Those remarks, televised live across the country, were preceded by an email sent to all SAG and AFTRA members shortly before the awards ceremony. In that missive, Howard and AFTRA president Roberta Reardon struck a similar note, urging members to “embrace this singular chance to harness the true power of unity.”

Acknowledging Reardon in the audience and calling her “my dear friend and tireless partner,” Howard reminded the audience that on stage a year ago at the Awards, he had promised that the two unions would work towards a merger plan.

That plan, he told the audience, was “overwhelmingly endorsed” by the two unions’ boards this weekend. (The SAG board’s vote was 87.1% to 12.9% and AFTRA’s was 94% to 6%.)

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“The final decision,” Howard noted in his remarks, “is in the hands of members.”

On the red carpet earlier in the afternoon, Reardon told The Hollywood Reporter that AFTRA members were “excited and hopeful,” and added that merger will allow the new union to “move forward and address all the problems that we’ve not been able to address well separately.”

The email to members also disclosed that the merger documents will be posted on the SAG and AFTRA websites in the next few days, and that on Friday, the unions will launch a new, joint website with details, FAQs and a calendar of informational meetings and other events. The email said that, as previously stated, the merger referendum will be sent to the two unions’ membership for a vote on or about February 27, with a ballot return and tabulation deadline of March 30.

Rebecca Ford contributed reporting from the red carpet.

Email: jhandel@att.net

Twitter: @jhandel

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