Actor Martin Landau, who is opposed to the merging of actors unions SAG and AFTRA, outside the Screen Actors Guild in Los Angeles where members were meeting to announce their support for the merger on June 12, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Historic negotiations to merge the two major unions that represent actors began Friday outside Washington, D.C., the unions announced Sunday.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild began the talks in Silver Spring, Maryland, a joint statement by SAG president Ken Howard and AFTRA president Roberta Reardon said.
“We applaud the members and staff of our two unions for their incredible solidarity and vision during this intense and substantive weekend," Howard and Reardon said. "We know the members of the successor union will be well served by their diligent and hard work during the months to come.”
Negotiators set up a series of work groups to discuss six key areas, a union statement said: governance and structure, finance and dues, collective bargaining, pension-health-retirement issues, operations and staff, and member education-outreach.
This weekend's meetings were "facilitated'' by the Rutgers School of Management, professor Susan Schurman and labor consultant Peter DiCicco.
Working groups will meet all this year, and the next full merger committee meeting will be at the end of August in New York City, the unions said.
SAG has 125,000 members, and AFTRA has 70,000, the unions said.