SAG and AFTRA actors unions begin formal merger talks

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File photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

File photo: SAG President actress Melissa Gilbert and AFTRA President actor John Connolly, along with other SAG and AFTRA members, join striking UFCW Picket Lines supporting the striking grocery workers outside the Pavilions Market on December 4, 2003 in Burbank.

The two actors unions, SAG and AFTRA, began formal talks over the weekend about becoming one union.

Both unions have formed committees to focus on a potential merger, and those two committees met face-to-face over the weekend at the National Labor College in Maryland. Out of that meeting came more committees, or six work groups, to bear down on the details of merging: dues, collective bargaining, pension, health and retirement benefits – issues the presidents of SAG and AFTRA heard members raise often during a recent national listening tour.

SAG and AFTRA have tried to merge before, in 1998 and in 2003. Both times, AFTRA members voted overwhelmingly for it, but too many SAG members thought it would weaken their guild and voted against it. But the idea is back with a lot of momentum, and the two unions have given the work groups until next January to come up with a merger plan.

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