Hollywood unions on the verge of a merger

Amy Scott Jan 17, 2012

Adriene Hill: Hollywood may be getting a new labor union. After years of courting, the two main actors’ unions have worked out a deal to tie the knot.

Marketplace’s Amy Scott has more.

Amy Scott: The proposed merger would combine the Screen Actors Guild — known as SAG — with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, or AFTRA. SAG traditionally represented film actors; AFTRA’s members are television actors as well as radio DJs and broadcasts journalists. The merged SAG-AFTRA would negotiate for all of them. As the entertainment industry has evolved, the two unions have had a lot of overlap.

Gary Chaison teaches labor relations at Clark University’s Graduate School of Management.

Gary Chaison: I think the key question here is: why not merge? They share a large number of members; the unions are being challenged by new technologies in the industry. I think they see that they have a brighter future as a combined organization than they might as separate organizations.

Another effort to join forces failed nine years ago. In 2008, AFTRA pulled out of a bargaining partnership with SAG and signed its own deal with TV producers. Chaison says this time the push to merge is coming from members. The Boards of the two unions will meet later this month to vote on the deal.

I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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