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Possible union merger gets mixed reviews

Laura Sturza

Members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of

Radio and Television Artists, many of whom live and work in Burbank,

have yet to reach agreement on the proposed merger of the two unions.


More than 44,000 people belong to both unions, with SAG

representing film, TV and commercial actors and AFTRA representing

game show performers, soap opera actors, newscasters and some

commercial actors.


The proposed umbrella union would be called the Alliance of

International Media Artists, and would represent nearly 150,000

actors, recording artists and broadcasters.

SAG rates run $655 daily, while AFTRA pays between $305 and $655

for prime-time day rates.

Proponents of the merger say it would increase bargaining power

because all actors and performers would be in a single union, and

producers would bargain with a single entity.


Not so, said Terrence Beasor, a screen actor and voice-over

performer who has been featured in productions shot at each of the

major Burbank studios."If we merge, the producer is [still] going to

come looking for that lower rate,” Beasor said.But actor and Burbank

resident Joseph Di Sante believes the merger means members “will have

one voice bargaining as opposed to two entities.” Di Sante firmly

believes the consolidation of the two groups will help settle rate



Supporters also say that SAG and AFTRA, both of which operate with

a deficit, could save money by consolidating their administrative

functions and sharing some overall member services, SAG spokeswoman

Ilyanne Kichaven said.

“I believe if they don’t get control of the costs of running both

unions separately they will fold,” Di Sante said. “The conglomerates

are sitting and waiting for this to happen. Because then they could

dictate the terms of whatever they want to pay.”

Beasor, meanwhile cited other concerns about a merger, including

the prospect of reductions to health and pension benefits, and the

possibility of losing voting rights in the proposed umbrella


Ballots will be sent to members Monday, and must be returned by

June 30.