Screen Actors Guild Members File Lawsuit
Screen Actors Guild members filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to halt a proposed merger with the American Federation of Television & Radio Actors, according to attorneys.
Opponents of the merger argue that the SAG board of directors failed to properly conduct research on the effects that the merger would have on members' pension plans and health benefits.
Among the 68 SAG members listed as plaintiffs are Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, Valerie Harper, Diane Ladd, Edward Asner, Joe Bologna and Nancy Sinatra.
David B. Casselman of the Los Angeles law firm Wasserman, Comden, Casselman & Esensten, LLP represents the opponents of the merger.
"We have spent almost two months negotiating with SAG in an effort to get them to present the truth regarding this merger plan,” Casselman said. “Members are entitled to full disclosure, not half truths and misleading and unsupported promises."
"By the time negative consequences are realized, they will be irreversible. The harmful impact of such actions will produce numerous, substantial and justified liability claims," the suit reads.
The SAG board voted on Jan. 28 to submit the proposed merger to a vote of all members. The next night at the SAG Awards ceremony, the presidents of SAG and AFTRA announced on national television that the “historic step” of the merger was soon to be realized.
Proponents of the merger argue that the increase in members in the union will allow for more bargaining leverage with studios and other employees.
SAG released a statement showing how it had given opponents of the merger a chance to speak up.
"We will vigorously defend all claims in court," the statement said. "We are confident that our actions are appropriate and consistent with the law and our own rules of procedure. Any suggestion that the members have not been fully and fairly informed is preposterous. We have scheduled more than 50 informational meetings across the country, have posted all of the merger documents on the Web site for over four weeks, and we have afforded the merger opponents the right to send an opposition statement at the unions' expense as part of the referendum package."