The union today began tentative moves to keep its pre-merger promise to join the separate SAG and AFTRA health care plans for members. SAG-AFTRA announced Sunday that beginning next summer, members with earnings of less than $15,100 split between SAG and AFTRA contracts “may be able to combine their earning to qualify for health insurance.” The SAG-AFTRA announcement is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2014, which, no coincidence, is when the new contract between the union and the producers is set to take effect. The DGA last month was the first guild to wrap up its contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers and is preparing to send out the agreement to its members for ratification. During the campaign to merge the two unions in 2012, proponents of the merger promised that the separate health and pension funds would be merged into one eventually if the merger was approved. Despite an overwhelming vote to unite the unions, in March 2012, movement on the combining of the health care plans has been extremely sluggish up until this point with closed-door committee meetings dictating the slow process. “Please understand that this is only a first step and the SAG P&H and AFTRA H&R Trustees are individually and jointly actively exploring additional options to qualify the greatest possible number of participants for health coverage through SAG-AFTRA work,” the union said today. SAG-AFTRA is not expected to sit down with the producers until early in the new year. This new three-year contract between the producers and the union will be the first since the 2012 merger and is anticipated to meld the previous individual contracts into one agreement. Eligible earnings reported to both SAG and AFTRA plans must fall under the qualifying period of April 1st 2013 through March 31st 2014.
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