LOS ANGELES - Members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists approved the two unions' merger, they announced on Mar. 30.
The merger, which has been in the works for almost two years, is their second try at uniting. Members rejected the first, several years ago. This time, they voted overwhelmingly to join together in a 150,000-person union, SAG and AFTRA said.
SAG members approved the merger by an 82-18 percent margin in a 53 percent turnout among the 105,368 ballots mailed. AFTRA members voted for it by 86-14 percent in a 51 percent turnout among the 65,744 ballots. The merger is effective immediately.
The combined union represents actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers and editors, program hosts, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, and voiceover artists - and even puppeteers.
"Members of both unions affirmed one of the most basic principles of unionism: Together we are stronger," said SAG-AFTRA Co-President Ken Howard in a statement. "This merger, the result of months - really years - of planning, brings together the best elements of both unions and positions us well to thrive in the changing 21st-century media landscape." Howard is the incumbent SAG president.
"The merger is a huge victory for our members, and it is a monumental achievement for the labor movement," added Co-President Roberta Reardon.
"Great and transformative things are possible when working Americans stand together and shape their collective destiny through their union. I applaud every member who voted, and invite all members, locally and nationally, to join with us in building a successor union worthy of AFTRA and SAG." Reardon is the incumbent AFTRA president.
The AFL-CIO had encouraged the two unions, whose memberships overlap, to merge.
Photo: SAG National President Ken Howard and Roberta Reardon announce the merging of SAG and AFTRA. Damian Dovarganes/AP