Unite for Strength is a Los Angeles based group of professional performers and media professionals committed to making SAG-AFTRA the world’s premiere Union for those who work in front of a camera or behind a microphone.
Unite for Strength members are a diverse group of SAG-AFTRA members who work in film and television, in commercials and animation, doing background work, performance capture, stunt coordination and voice-overs. Our members are also professional broadcasters, recording artists, singers and dancers. In short, our elected leadership come from just about all aspects of the entertainment and media landscape.
While a few are newcomers and some are award-winning veterans, most are mid-career and depend on performing for their livelihoods. Some also apply their creativity to other areas, as active WGA writers and DGA directors, but they all look to SAG-AFTRA for protection at work, fair compensation, health insurance and the pension that will be so vital down the line.
Now that we are One Union, UFS is committed to increasing our collective strength by organizing new work, streamlining our union’s operations, negotiating strong contracts, enforcing those contracts and getting our members paid rapidly and accurately.
Unite for Strength was formed in 2008 by Hollywood Screen Actors Guild members concerned that SAG’s leadership was creating division among performers and isolating the Guild, weakening its position in contract negotiations. Unite for Strength organizers were especially concerned with the Guild’s repeated attacks on AFTRA, which resulted in the two unions negotiating the TV/Theatrical contract separately for the first time in over 25 years. In September 2008, a group of Unite for Strength members ran for the board of directors, to offer SAG members a new direction. UFS candidates won a majority of the available seats, with 5 being elected to the National Board and 13 to the Hollywood Division Board.
UFS board members called for a more unifying and strategic leadership approach, but these calls were rejected by Membership First leaders. By year’s end, those leaders had failed to successfully negotiate any of SAG’s numerous expired contracts, including the all-important TV/Theatrical contract. With SAG losing most new television coverage, and film production nearly halted due to the lack of a contract, UFS representatives joined with board members from New York and across the country to form a new majority coalition and take control of the TV/Theatrical and Commercials contract negotiations. Working jointly with AFTRA, this coalition led SAG in negotiating a new Commercials contract that was ratified by a landslide 94% vote. Three weeks later, a new TV/Theatrical contract was approved by members nearly 4 to 1 (78%-22%) with a record voting turnout.
Building on this momentum, in September 2009, Unite for Strength candidates won 21 of 33 Hollywood Board seats, 4 additional National board seats, and both national offices, with Ken Howard elected as President. In 2012, Unite for Strength was instrumental in bringing a merger referendum to the members, complete with a new Constitution. Members from both SAG and AFTRA voted overwhelmingly in favor of merger and thus SAG-AFTRA was born.