Here’s the latest news from SAG. For the latest Hollywood Guilds news, see my post from earlier this week:

Los Angeles, (April 30, 2011) – The Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors today unanimously approved the creation of a Merger Task Force to work with their AFTRA counterparts in developing a formal plan to unite SAG and AFTRA members in one union.

The Board’s resolution instructed the newly-formed Merger Task Force “to meet with representatives of AFTRA as soon as practicable, but no later than June 2011, to initiate the development of a plan to create a successor union formed from the best elements of both SAG and AFTRA.” The full text of the resolution appears below.

Led by Screen Actors Guild National President Ken Howard, the Merger Task Force members were selected from among those who served on the Guild’s SAG-AFTRA Relations Task Force.

The National Board’s creation of the Merger Task Force elicited enthusiastic support from the Guild’s top officers.

SAG National President Ken Howard said, “The message from SAG and AFTRA members across the country has been clear – they want this done as soon as possible. If our boards approve the merger plan in January, our members will make the final decision through a referendum vote less than a year from now. I’m proud that we’ve taken a major step today, and I’m extremely grateful for the unanimous support of the SAG National Board. I also want to thank AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon, whose remarkable leadership has been essential in bringing us to this point.”

Screen Actors Guild National Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino said, “As treasurer, and as a member of both unions, I could not be more heartened. Not only will creation of one union increase our bargaining leverage, it will allow us to pool our resources to give members the protection they need by actively enforcing contracts and organizing new work.”

Screen Actors Guild 1st Vice President and Hollywood Division Chair Ned Vaughn said, “The entertainment industry is undergoing a transformation, and the only way for middle-class performers to remain strong is to have one union fighting for them with a unified strategy. I’m excited to be a part of making that happen.”

Screen Actors Guild 2nd Vice President and New York Division President Mike Hodge said, “The labor movement is under attack in this country. As performers, we have to fight back harder than ever before, and joining together in one union is the strongest way forward.”

Screen Actors Guild 3rd Vice President and Regional Branch Division Chair David Hartley-Margolin said, “Today’s action is a crucial step toward creating a new national union for media workers – one that will embody many of the tenets members across the country have been embracing for decades, both philosophically and in practice. We are finally seeing a light at the end of a long, long tunnel.”

In addition to establishing the Merger Task Force, the Board also adopted a draft mission statement for the successor union. The full text of the mission statement appears below.

The Merger Task Force was also authorized to engage advisors and create sub-workgroups in consultation with the SAG national executive director and other staff.

The recommendation and mission statement grew out of the work of the joint SAG and AFTRA Presidents’ Forum for One Union that has been meeting regularly since October. The Presidents’ Forum has held a series of member listening tour meetings across the country and, in early April, released a public statement reporting significant progress toward the goal of uniting SAG and AFTRA.

The statement also reported that Presidents’ Forum participants had unanimously approved both the draft mission statement and draft resolutions for consideration by the unions’ respective National Boards of Directors. At its meeting on May 14, 2011, the AFTRA National Board of Directors will take up a corresponding recommendation to establish a 13-member committee to work in concert with SAG’s Merger Task Force in developing a formal merger plan by January 2012.

Today was the first day of the SAG National Board of Directors regularly scheduled, two-day plenary at SAG headquarters in Los Angeles. The Board meeting will continue through Sunday.

Text of the National Board’s Merger Task Force Resolution
“The National Board hereby establishes a Merger Task Force to be comprised of thirteen members. The members shall be President Howard and twelve individuals as recommended by the President from among the members of the SAG/AFTRA Relations Task Force. The remaining members and alternates of the SAG/AFTRA Relations Task Force shall serve as alternates to the Merger Task Force, but will attend meetings only upon the request of an absent member of the task force or as designated by the chair if such a request is not timely made.
The Merger Task Force is hereby instructed to meet with representatives of AFTRA as soon as practicable, but no later than June 2011, to initiate the development of a plan to create a successor union formed from the best elements of both SAG and AFTRA. The Merger Task Force, in consultation with the National Executive Director and other staff, may engage any advisors and create any sub-workgroups it deems necessary to accomplish this goal. The Merger Task Force is further authorized to populate any sub-workgroups with members of the task force, alternates to the task force, other elected officials, or from the general membership of the union.

The Merger Task Force shall work with the AFTRA New Union Committee to prepare a merger agreement, constitution and dues policy in order to submit these documents to the Unions’ respective National Boards for approval in January 2012.
In furtherance of the above-mentioned actions, the Mission Statement attached hereto is adopted as the guiding document of this process.”
Approved unanimously

Text of The Successor Union Mission Statement
“The successor union (the successor union is used herein as a placeholder only) brings together two great American labor unions: Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Both were formed in the turmoil of the 1930s, with rich histories of fighting for and securing the strongest protections for media artists. Our members united to form the successor union in order to preserve those hard-won rights and to continue the struggle to extend and expand those protections into the 21st century and beyond.

We are actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, dj’s, news writers, news directors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals. Our work is seen and heard in theaters, on television and radio, sound recordings, the internet, games, mobile devices, home video: you see us and hear us on all media distribution platforms. We are the faces and the voices that entertain and inform America and the world.

The successor union is committed to organizing all work done under our jurisdictions; negotiating the best wages, working conditions, and health and pension benefits; preserving and expanding members’ work opportunities; vigorously enforcing our contracts; and protecting members against unauthorized use of their work.

A proud member of the AFL-CIO, the successor union partners with our fellow unions in the U.S. and internationally to seek the strongest protections for media artists throughout the world. We work with governments at the international, federal, state, and local levels to expand protections for American media professionals both at home and abroad.

It is a core value of the successor union that our strength is in our diversity. We are committed to the broadest employment and involvement of our members, regardless of gender, race, age, religious beliefs, disability, nationality, and sexual orientation or identification. The successor union strives to educate and engage members so that they may be full participants in the workings of their union. We are proud to be a model of inclusion, democratic organization and governance.“

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