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SAG members sue to stop AFTRA merger

Feb. 22, 2012 at 6:41 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Members of the Screen Actors Guild are suing to head off the guild's proposed merger with the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists.

The screen actors have asked the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to grant an injunction to stop the guild from calling for a vote on the proposed merger with their colleagues.

The suit claimed the SAG board has "breached its fiduciary duties to conduct an actuarial impact study detailing the effects of the proposed merger on SAG membership pension and health benefits."

Among the plaintiffs named in the suit are Martin Sheen, Edward Asner, Ed Harris, Valerie Harper, Diane Ladd, Lainie Kazan, Joe Bologna, Alan Rosenberg, Alan Ruck, Nancy Sinatra and Renee Taylor.

"We have spent almost two months negotiating with SAG in an effort to get them to present the truth regarding this merger plan. Members are entitled to full disclosure, not half-truths and misleading and unsupported promises," David B. Casselman of the Los Angeles law firm Wasserman, Comden, Casselman & Esensten LLP, said in a statement Wednesday. "They have done nothing of substance to support their claims that the proposed merger will protect SAG member benefits. The average SAG member makes less than $10,000 per year. They need to know that all necessary due diligence was done to protect them."

SAG issued its own statement, saying the guild's board thinks "this suit is completely without merit."

"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."

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