Actors Equity Endorses SAG-AFTRA Merger
The vote adds fuel to the movement toward a combination of the two actor unions (UPDATED).
The national Council of Actors Equity voted unanimously Tuesday night to endorse the planned merger of SAG and AFTRA. The vote by the nearly century-old union, which represents performers in live stage productions, adds fuel to the movement toward a combined SAG-AFTRA.
The Equity motion was a single sentence: “AEA strongly supports SAG and AFTRA in their proposal to merge their Unions.”
In response, SAG president Ken Howard thanked Equity president Nick Wyman and the Council, and said “We're honored by their action today and by the support of Equity members, who are very often members of SAG and AFTRA as well.” He added, “There¹s a real spirit of unity in our ranks, and it can only serve to make us all stronger.”
Noting that Wyman is a member of all three actors’ unions, AFTRA president Roberta Reardon offered her thanks, and said “Today's resolution of support from our sisters and brothers on the Actors' Equity Council shows the strong solidarity we enjoy across our entertainment and media industries.”
Ballots are set to be mailed to SAG and AFTRA members on Monday. AFTRA has supported merger in the past, and SAG members have voted overwhelmingly for pro-merger candidates in the past several years.
Opponents, however, are threatening to file a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the merger vote, citing concerns about whether a merger would weaken SAG and uncertainties about the combined union's heath and pension plans. Merger supporters say that combining the unions is the only was to counter the power of entertainment conglomerates and represents the best route towards broadening pension and health eligibility and strengthening benefits.