#SAGAFTRA MERGER MYTH #3: #SAG and #AFTRA haven’t done a constitutionally required study of the impact on their benefit plans.
MERGER FACT: This is absolutely false: there is no requirement that the unions conduct a study of the impact of merger on the benefit plans. Nevertheless, the unions commissioned a Feasibility Report that demonstrates that merger of the unions will only benefit the plans and their participants.
Critics contend that there should be an actuarial study using non-public information held only by the plans. No such actuarial study can be conducted without management’s cooperation and management trustees have already made clear that they will not agree to conduct an actuarial study before the unions themselves are merged.
Those who claim there is a requirement to conduct a study point to language in the Phase I agreement between SAG and AFTRA. That agreement, however, is a dead letter. In 2008, it was suspended and deemed terminated. Even so, the language of the Phase I agreement does not require a study. It provides as follows:
The Committees agree to recommend that the consolidation of the respective pension plans be studied so that it may ascertained (a) what, if any, merger plan can be achieved which will satisfy the requirements of law and the protection of all eligible members against loss of benefits, presently or in the future; and (b) the willingness of industry trustees to consolidate the plans.
All that this language requires is that the committees that negotiated the Phase I agreement back in 1981 “recommend” to the National Boards that “consolidation of the respective pension plans be studied.” The National Boards in fact considered this recommendation and found that the Feasibility Report met the objectives and that it would be futile to pursue an actuarial study in advance of merger of the unions.