Celebrity Actors Among Those Trying To Halt Sag-aftra Merger
A dissident group of SAG members, who include such notables as Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, Ed Harris and Martin Sheen, is going to court in an effort to halt the union's plans to call a referendum on the proposed merger with AFTRA. The lawsuit claims that SAG's board, under union rules, were required to conduct an actuarial impact study on the effect of the merger on SAG members' health and pension benefits. The board maintains that, for the time being, the separate SAG and AFTRA pension funds, will continue to be operated autonomously and will therefore be unaffected by the merger. In a statement, the union said, "This filing is simply a public relations stunt that follows a clear pattern by some of the plaintiffs of filing unsuccessful lawsuits against their own union. We do not believe that the members will be fooled." In a related matter, members of AFTRA have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract with the major television networks and producers that calls for a 1 percent increase in employer contributions to AFTRA's Health and Retirement Fund and a 2-percent annual increase in wages.