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Will SAG and AFTRA Merge?


By Stephanie Ciccarelli

February 28, 2012

Comments (23)

Comedy and Tragedy theatre masksWill the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists merge?

In the near future there will be a vote to decide whether these two performers unions will become one and serve their members, many of whom belong to both organizations, in a more unified and practical manner.

Do you have any thoughts or feelings you'd like to share?

Be sure to comment and express your opinion!


After decades of division and unsuccessful attempts to unite, the two most powerful performers guilds in the United States of America are heading toward an historic vote to merge.

The prospect of a SAG-AFTRA merger has been received with great anticipation by talent who are members of both organizations. A merger could mean less money spent in membership dues for those who are members of both, a better chance of getting health benefits and more.

If there's one reason for merger that sticks out most in my memory, it's this:

Talent who are members of both organizations want to see the monies they make working SAG and AFTRA jobs combined so that they can hit the financial threshold necessary obtain health benefits. The merger of these two unions would theoretically consolidate a performer's earnings and bring them to a place where they can qualify.

What's The Top Reason For SAG And AFTRA To Merge?

The SAGAFTRA.org website cites this as the key reason as to why SAG and AFTRA should unite:

"Increasing our bargaining strength is the key reason because that is the foundation of ALL union protections - from wages and residuals to safety and workplace protections and, of course, pension and health benefits. Merging AFTRA and SAG will increase our bargaining strength and give us more power to safeguard these vital protections."

What About Health, Pensions and Retirement?

While perusing the FAQs, I also thought this one might be of interest:

"Decisions about combining the AFTRA and SAG benefit plans will ultimately be made by the plan trustees, not the unions. But there is no realistic chance the trustees will take steps toward combining the plans unless the unions have already merged.

When merger was last considered in 2003, some members were led to believe that keeping the unions separate would protect their benefits - but the reality has been far different. Since then, health plan costs such as premiums have increased while coverage has been reduced; pension accrual rates have declined while earnings needed to qualify for both types of benefits have risen. Many members now find their earnings split between the SAG and AFTRA plans, making it much harder to qualify."


For more information about the most frequently asked questions regarding this potential merger, visit:


Do You Have Anything To Add?

If you have any thoughts you'd like to share, comment on this post below.

If you are reading this in your email and wish to participate in the conversation online, click here to discuss the SAG-AFTRA proposed merger.

Looking forward to hearing your responses!

Best wishes,


©iStockphoto.com/Eduard Härkönen

Related Topics: AFTRA, comedy, radio, reading, SAG, union, United States


    I think for younger and newer members it's a good deal, but as illustrated by the people who have sued the Union over this merger, the more vested members aren't too happy over the deal. They have told me to read the fine print when I get my ballot.

    Posted by:

      Jim Hull when i was an a.f.t.r.a. member this controversy was always a matter waiting in the wings, and that was 40 yrs. ago. it will most likely keep waiting.

      Posted by:
      • Jim Hull
      • February 29, 2012 2:32 PM

        This merger should have happened long, long, long ago. Perhaps the leadership hopes a merger will pull them from the jaws of irrelevance.

        Everyone should read the fine print or else we will wind up with only promises of hope and change.

        I am a member of both unions.

        Posted by:
        • steve hammill
        • February 29, 2012 3:47 PM

          end unions now...

          Posted by:
          • Don Iarussi
          • February 29, 2012 4:08 PM

            Sure. Then everyone can live happily ever saftra.

            Posted by:
            • Kelly Smith
            • February 29, 2012 4:09 PM

              Paraphrasing Leno's joke, the new union could have the highest percentage of unemployed members.

              Posted by:
              • Vinnie Vinson
              • February 29, 2012 4:09 PM

                Should have happened a decade ago.

                Posted by:
                • Peter Flihan
                • February 29, 2012 4:11 PM

                  I think the more relevant question is will it make a difference in terms of negotiation with producers. (I belong to both unions) It will certainly add some leverage, so yes, i think it should happen, but the horse may out of the barn, down the road and on a train to Florida in terms of union heft in this market.

                  Posted by:
                  • Christopher McHale
                  • February 29, 2012 4:12 PM

                    I'm on the fence on this. Will membership be more expensive?

                    Posted by:
                    • Mary Clare Fitzgerald
                    • February 29, 2012 4:13 PM

                      Sag people are complaining that there our dues annually will double...

                      Posted by:
                      • Juan Shamsul Alam
                      • February 29, 2012 4:13 PM

                        No. The unions being "in competition" with each other is one of the only things keeping them in line. Do we really want one organization to have a monopoly on deciding actors rights?

                        As for leverage against the producers, a lot of SAG rules already benefit the producers, because most of the actors advocating these changes are now producers and have a conflict of interest.

                        Just my two cents. I believe in unions, but as they become bigger many unions transition into self-serving entities and no longer represent the people they were intended to.

                        Posted by:
                        • Ghislaine Sopher-Phillips
                        • February 29, 2012 4:14 PM

                          I feel like not favoring SAG-AFTRA is like not wanting your parents who love you and have had their issues in the past, to get back together again.

                          Posted by:

                            AFTRA has an open door policy. That is why I was never interested to join. Many actors who were not qualified to join SAG, joined AFTRA. I was proud to be accepted by SAG because I had to earn that with my principal work. If the two unions join, I will have no reason anymore to be proud of my membership. I will be in the same union with those who were not accepted by SAG.

                            Posted by:
                            • Katalin Pota
                            • March 1, 2012 8:44 AM

                              As a new actor, I know nothing of the past. But in general, joining forces is a good idea.

                              Posted by:
                              • Meredith Slater
                              • March 1, 2012 8:45 AM

                                AGREE! United we stand, with a little help from our friends!?

                                Posted by:
                                • Mikaleen McClure
                                • March 1, 2012 8:45 AM

                                  I was an AFTRA member 15 years ago and voted emphatically in favor of merging SAG and AFTRA. Unfortunately, it didn't happen then. Online entertainment brings a whole new facet to actors' rights and pay; it's time for SAG and AFTRA to join forces, not to be virtual adversaries. I particularly feel for actors who are members

                                  Posted by:
                                  • Joan Meyer
                                  • March 1, 2012 8:46 AM

                                    I'm both AFTRA and SAG--it's about time they merged! VOTE TODAY!!!!!! If you are both Unions, VOTE TWICE! Once for each Union!

                                    Posted by:
                                    • Michael S Jablon
                                    • March 1, 2012 8:46 AM

                                      NOOOOOOOOOO! Do you think oranges and apples should be classified as the same fruit?

                                      Posted by:
                                      • Randal Patrick
                                      • March 1, 2012 8:47 AM

                                        No the Screen Actor's Guild is primarily a major motion picture affiliation of studio corporations while the America Federation for TV and Radio Artist is for networks. That's like expanding government. Keep them separated.

                                        Posted by:
                                        • Cory Morr
                                        • March 1, 2012 8:48 AM

                                          Overall the concept is good and should happen at some point. Initiation fees will rise to $3000.00 (on the website) and dues will increase. I don't think dues are bad now though, just the initiation. I got into AFTRA a couple years back and just qualified and joinded SAG today after paying the initiation fee of $2277. I earned it and am proud, but am also thankful to AFTRA for being there. I do like the fact that there is competition now, but it seems AFTRA is becoming more of a moot point. Also, there are still hurdles reconciling the two pension and benefit programs. I beleive the deal should be fleshed out more prior to a vote.

                                          Posted by:
                                          • Keith Stoller
                                          • March 1, 2012 8:49 AM

                                            I think they should go out for coffee first...Then merge. Safely.

                                            Posted by:
                                            • Mark Gizel
                                            • March 1, 2012 8:49 AM

                                              Yes, in the long run it will be beneficial to all actors.

                                              Posted by:
                                              • M Xavier O'Connor
                                              • March 1, 2012 8:49 AM

                                                Absolutely, they should merge...life would be a lot simpler.

                                                Posted by:
                                                • Robbie Shafer
                                                • March 1, 2012 8:50 AM

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