- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Two film industry unions are closer to merging.

The Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists announced Monday they have agreed to a plan to combine their unions. The announcement comes after nine days of talks between the unions in Hollywood and two years of negotiations between the groups to join forces in a bid to gain more leverage in contract negotiations.

SAG represents 125,000 actors, while AFTRA represents 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters and recording artists. Some 45,000 of AFTRA’s members also belong to SAG. AFTRA supported a merger with SAG in 1998 and 2003 only to see those efforts fail.

SAG and AFTRA split acrimoniously in 2008 and decided to negotiate deals with the studios separately for the first time in three decades. The rift hurt SAG as TV studios sent most of their new work AFTRA’s way. SAG maintains exclusive jurisdiction over feature films.

SAG National President Ken Howard and AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon said in a joint statement they are confident their “members will agree that we have created something we can all be proud of _ actors, singers, broadcasters, dancers, voiceover artists, background actors, stuntpersons and all entertainment and media professionals that will be represented by this new union.”

The plan will be recommended later this month to the unions’ boards.







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