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AFTRA Members Rejoice as Judge Allows Vote on SAG Merger

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When the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists announced that they'd be mailing home ballots for member to vote on a potential merge, some Hollywood folk weren't happy. A group of SAG members, including Martin Sheen and Ed Harris, filed a lawsuit to try to block the vote from taking place. Yesterday, a judge rejected the suit.

According to City News Service, U.S. District Judge James Otero wrote in his decision that the merger wasn't up to the court to decide.

"Voting in favor of merger may or may not be in the best interest of the majority of union members...But the decision, for better or worse, belongs to the members, not to plaintiffs and certainly not to the court.''

The lawsuit contended that SAG and AFTRA officials didn't sufficiently examine how the merger would affect members' health benefits and pensions. To that end, the plaintiffs suggested that members were being duped by the two groups.

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The Chicago Tribune reports that in his opinion, Otero seemed to suggest that perhaps there weren't enough facts about the consequences to members' benefits, but that it was still up to members to vote.

"Judicial interference with the members' right to decide whether they would like to proceed with merger despite the lack of concrete information about benefits would not serve this public policy," he wrote.