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SAG-AFTRA Logo.svg
Full name Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
Founded March 30, 2012 (2012-03-30)
Members 116,741 ("active" members)(2016)[1]
80,440 (other members; withdrawn/suspended) (2014)[2]
Affiliation AAAA, AFL-CIO, IFJ, International Federation of Actors
Key people
  • Gabrielle Carteris, President[3][4]
  • Rebecca Damon, Executive Vice President
  • Jane Austin, Secretary-Treasurer
  • Clyde Kusatsu, Vice President, Los Angeles
  • Mike Hodge, Vice President, New York
  • Ilyssa Fradin, Vice President, Mid-Sized Locals
  • David Hartley-Margolin, Vice President, Small Locals
  • Samantha Mathis, Vice President, Actors/Performers
  • Catherine Brown, Vice President, Broadcasters
  • Dan Navarro, Vice President, Recording Artists
Office location 5757 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, California
Country United States

Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is an American labor union representing approximately 160,000 film and television principal and background performers, journalists, recording artists, and radio personalities worldwide. The organization was formed on March 30, 2012, following the merger of the Screen Actors Guild (created in 1933) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (created in 1937 as American Federation of Radio Artists, becoming AFTRA in 1952 after merger with Television Authority).[5] SAG-AFTRA is a member of the AFL–CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States.[6] The union also represents voice actors and motion capture performers who work in the video game industry. Their membership was highlighted in a labor strike against game developers and publishers in October 2016.[7]


As of January 2013, Variety reported that the merger had proceeded with "few bumps", amid shows of good will on both sides. The stickiest remaining problem was reported to be the merger of the two pension funds, in part as a way of dealing with the issue of performers who paid into each plan, yet did not quite earn enough under either of the old plans to qualify for a pension.[8]

The union is perceived as having two factions. The larger faction has focused on creating job opportunities for members. A second faction has criticized the current administration for being too quick and soft when it comes to negotiations with studios.[9]

Ken Howard, first president of the merged union, died on March 23, 2016.[4] He was succeeded as president by Gabrielle Carteris on April 9, 2016.[3]


SAG-AFTRA Plaza in Los Angeles, California, headquarters to SAG-AFTRA

SAG-AFTRA has a diverse membership consisting of film and television performers, actors in radio, video games, and television, radio and television announcers and newspersons, singers and recording artists (both royalty artists and background singers), performers in commercials in all forms of media, and actors working as stunt persons and specialty acts.

Membership in SAG-AFTRA is considered a rite of passage for new performers and media professionals. It is often procured after getting hired for their first job in a studio that has a collective bargaining agreement with the union.[10] SAG-AFTRA work is considered to be substantially more prestigious than non-union jobs. Due to the size and influence of the union, most major media firms have a collective bargaining agreement with SAG-AFTRA. Studios that have signed a collective bargaining agreement with SAG-AFTRA are not closed shops, but are generally required to give preference to union members first when hiring.

Nearly all professional actors and media professionals working for medium or large-scale American media firms are expected to be unionized. As a result, SAG-AFTRA has many members who are consistently out of work, uncommon for a union, but reflective of how work is procured in the industry. According to SAG-AFTRA's Department of Labor records since its founding, around 34%, or a third, of the union's total membership have consistently been considered "withdrawn," "suspended," or otherwise not categorized as "active" members. These members are ineligible to vote in the union.[11] "Honorable withdrawals" constitute the largest portion of these, at 20% of the total membership, or 46,934 members. "Suspended payment" members are the second largest, at 14%, or 33,422 members.[2] This classification scheme is continued from the Screen Actors Guild,[12] rather than the scheme used by AFTRA.[13]

Major strikes and boycotts[edit]

2016 strike[edit]

After about a year and a half of negotiations, SAG-AFTRA issued a strike on October 21, 2016 in opposition towards eleven American video game developers and publishers, including Activision, Electronic Arts, Insomniac Games, Take 2 Interactive, and WB Games. The strike resulted from attempted negotiations since February 2015 to replace the previous contract, the Interactive Media Agreement, that expired in late 2014.[14] There are four major issues being fought for with this strike. Transparency, so actors can better negotiate their contracts, preventing vocal stress from long recording sessions, stunt coordinators on performance capture sets, and payment of residuals based on sales of a video game,[15] which have traditionally not been used in the video game industry. SAG-AFTRA members sought to bring equity for video game actors as in other industries, while the video game companies feared that giving residuals to actors would overshadow the contributions of programmers and artists that contribute to the games. It was the first such organized strike within the video game industry and the first voice actors' strike in 17 years, as well as the first strike within the merged SAG-AFTRA organization. As of January 24, 2017, it is the second-longest strike within SAG, surpassing the 95-day 1980 Emmy Awards strike, and trailing the 2000 commercials strike.[16]


  1. ^ Whipp, Glenn, SAG Awards 2016: Take that, Oscars -- diversity's the big winner tonight, Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2016
  2. ^ a b US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-391. Report submitted July 30, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Rodriguez, Brenda (April 9, 2016). "With new president, SAG-AFTRA makes historic change by putting women in leadership". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 9, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Olsen, Mark (March 23, 2016). "Ken Howard, actor and president of SAG-AFTRA, dies at 71". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 23, 2016. 
  5. ^ "SAG, AFTRA Members Approve Merger to Form SAG-AFTRA" (Press release). SAG-AFTRA. March 30, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Unions of the AFL-CIO". AFL-CIO. Retrieved February 1, 2016. 
  7. ^ "SAG-AFTRA Members Declare Video Game Strike" (Press release). October 21, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  8. ^ McNary, Dave (January 25, 2013). "SAG, AFTRA merger makes for few bumps". Variety. 
  9. ^ Verrier, Richard, SAG-AFTRA election reflects fears over actors' pay for online shows, Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2015
  10. ^ SAG-AFTRA, Steps to Join
  11. ^ US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-391. (Search)
  12. ^ US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-113. (Search)
  13. ^ US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-030. (Search)
  14. ^ Smith, Iman (October 22, 2016). "Voice Actors Strike Against Video Game Companies". NPR. Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  15. ^ Critical Scope (2017-03-30), Voice actors Matt Mercer & Marisha Ray discuss SAG-AFTRA Interactive Strike (AnimeMilwaukee), retrieved 2017-03-31 
  16. ^ Robb, David (January 24, 2017). "Actors Strike Against Video Game Industry Now Second-Longest in SAG History". Deadline. Retrieved January 24, 2017. 

External links[edit]