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Two actors unions merge; bargaining power set to soar

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MUMBAI: Two of Hollywood‘s largest actors unions have decided to merge making way for the creation of a single organization that will have greater bargaining power with film and television studios.

Members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists(AFTRA) approved the plan supported by George Clooney and Alec Baldwin, with 82 per cent of SAG and 86 per cent of AFTRA members voting in favour, it is understood.

The combined organization, with more than 150,000 members, will have the power to negotiate for better pay, pension and health benefits and also navigate the impact of changes to distribution.

The merger campaign began during the strike after SAG dissidents criticized union leaders for failing to reach an agreement with the studios. After negotiations broke down, the pro-merger group Unite for Strength won seats on the national board by calling for a combination of the two unions. The discussions with AFTRA began after the strike ended in April 2009.

It may be remembered that a 2009 strike by the Screen Actors Guild was weakened when AFTRA members remained on the job because their contract expired on a different date.

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