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SAG-AFTRA merger opponents to drop lawsuit

May 16, 2012|By Richard Verrier
  • Ed Asner, star of the television drama "Lou Grant," is among several actors who sued to oppose the merger of SAG and AFTRA.
Ed Asner, star of the television drama "Lou Grant," is among… (Associated Press )

Opponents of the recently ratified merger between the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have agreed to drop their legal challenge of the combination.

"After careful consideration, largely reflecting on the results of the recent merger election, my clients have reached the conclusion that continued prosecution of the pending litigation would not assist the cause they initially sought to champion," said Los Angeles attorney David Casselman, who represented high-profile actors in the action including Martin Sheen, Ed Asner, Valerie Harper and Ed Harris.

The actors sued in February in an unsuccessful effort to block the merger referendum. "While many substantial questions remain about abuses of the process leading to the merger vote, there is little to be gained at this point by embarrassing the individuals at fault or destabilizing their own union," Casselman said.

The suitĀ alleged that the SAG board breached its fiduciary duties to conduct an actuarial impact study detailing the effects of the proposed merger on health and pension benefits of SAG members. SAG's board overwhelmingly approved a plan to merge with the smaller union, arguing that doing so would give them more leverage in negotiations with the studios and end years of turf wars between the two labor groups.

SAG officials said the lawsuit was meritless and a "public relations stunt." In March, as was widely anticipated, a federal judge dismissed the request for an injunction to cancel a referendum on the merger, which was overwhelmingly approved by members of both unions.


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SAG board votes to approve merger plan

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