After two failed attempts and 80 years of on-and-off efforts, the members of SAG and AFTRA have voted to merge. The new organization, called SAG-AFTRA, was born Friday afternoon.
The crowd at SAG headquarters in Los Angeles broke into song after the announcement, singing, “We have overcome.”
The vote among SAG members 82 percent in favor – a stunningly high number — and among AFTRA members, it was 86 percent in favor. Sixty percent approval by each union was required. SAG-AFTRA national co-presidents Ken Howard and Roberta Reardon announced the results at 1:35 p.m. PT.
More than 55,000 SAG ballots and 37,500 AFTRA ballots were returned.
Approval by AFTRA members was never in doubt: They had voted “yes” in the 1998-99 and 2003 merger attempts. But SAG members had voted “no” both times. In 2003, SAG’s “yes” votes fell about 2 percent short; 640 votes would have swung the result.