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If SAG/AFTRA merger so great, why the hard sell?

Joseph Di Sante states in his letter (“Vote could have profound

implications,” Burbank Leader, June 11) that “most of the information

out there is misinformation supplied by the ‘no’ advocates, who just

may be feeling their little fiefdoms are about to come to an end.”

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It is that same arrogance Mr. Di Sante and the leadership of

Screen Actor’s Guild displays that has my blood boiling. The issue to

merge has been around for many years. Now, instead of “merger,” it is

being presented to the membership as “consolidation.” Sounds much

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nicer, doesn’t it?

This most recent attempt at “merger” is being rammed down the

throats of members from coast to coast. Sold to us for millions of

our union dollars by some high-priced political PR firm (GMMB).

I would ask Mr. Di Sante, if this is such a great deal for the

membership, why the hard sell? Why no “minority report” included in

our ballots so members can have both sides of the issue? The biggest

vote in the history of our guild and no opportunity for a dissenting

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opinion? What about the Mercer Report? A report commissioned by the

trustees of the SAG producer’s pension and health plan, which was set

up to study if merging the SAG/AFTRA pension and health plans was

feasible. That’s not important information for the membership to have

prior to a vote? Come on, Joe -- it’s a little bit more than just

losing the SAG and AFTRA logos. Maybe in his personal life Joe Di

Sante has no problem with signing over a blank check to folks he does

business with, but not me. The union is asking for a “yes” vote today

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and telling me to “trust” that they’ll take care of the problem

tomorrow. No thank you.

Mr. Di Sante and the pro-merger forces would have the membership

believe that “a bigger union is a better union.” In his letter, he

states, “Corporate Hollywood is waiting for these talent unions to go

under and they are quietly thriving on the confusion most members are

presently dealing with over this merger.” I would only suggest Mr. Di

Sante look at the Directors Guild as an example of how powerful a

union can be without necessarily being bigger. Are we to believe that

the Directors Guild is next in line on the “Hollywood Hit List” after

SAG and AFTRA? I doubt it.

As a long-time member who is vested in both SAG and AFTRA, I have

very real concerns about the future of my pension and heath plans

should these two unions now merge. My family, yes; my fiefdom, no.

One of the greatest days in my life was when I got my SAG card

back in 1977. Now, we stand on the eve of what could very well be the

last vote in the history of the Screen Actor’s Guild. The ballots are

in the mail and are due back at the end of the month. I would urge

any member out there that has not yet made up their mind, to educate

yourself. Read the literature. Go to www.savesag.com to read the

minority report before you cast your vote. But please vote.

JAMES ARONE

Burbank


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