SAG-AFTRA Protestors Hold Fifth Anti-Merger Rally

The fifth in a series of weekly rallies drew only a few people; meanwhile, the close of balloting –- and a key court hearing –- are about three weeks away.

Anti-merger forces held a rally Thursday in front of SAG and AFTRA’s headquarters in Los Angeles. About 20-25 people picketed, about the same as the first rally four weeks ago, and down from the high of 50 that picketers achieved two weeks ago.

David Hillberg, a 2011 candidate for SAG president, told The Hollywood Reporter that “a lot of [the picketers] are scared about their pension and health [benefits].” He added that his concerns focused on the merger agreement between the unions, and charged that “AFTRA has a habit of poaching,” i.e., seeking jurisdiction over work that some contend is rightfully SAG’s.

“I depend on union contracts and benefits to provide for my family,” countered SAG 1st vice-president Ned Vaughn,so I definitely have the same concerns about actors getting enough work, and that every job pays as much as possible” – but, he said, “that's why I support merger. Opponents can't explain how staying divided makes us any stronger.”

Vaughn added that he believed that merger will pass, and that he hoped when that happens that “those who opposed it will put their energy into the fight to improve our contracts.”

Ballots are set to be tallied March 30, unless a federal judge in a pending lawsuit preemptively invalidates the referendum. A hearing in the case is set for March 26.

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Twitter: @jhandel