Ramping for what will surely be a heated battle between pro and anti AFTRA-merger voices within SAG, the Screen Actors Guild national board this weekend voted to begin negotiation on a new Educational and Industrial contract alongside its sister labor org.

The SAG board's authorization for chief negotiator David White to expand the guild's joint-bargaining agreement with the American Federation of Radio and TV Artists comes amid stepped-up opposition from anti-merger Membership First voices within SAG, in the run-up to the guild's Sept. 23 national-board elections.

The board also voted to explore working with AFTRA on a new live-action cable deal. Currently, the pro-merger Unite for Strength coalition, led by national president Ken Howard, has the upper hand by a somewhat narrow margin.

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