December Flash! AFTRA National Recording Secretary Lainie Cooke gives an update on the One New Union "Listening Tour"

December Flash! AFTRA National Recording Secretary Lainie Cooke gives an update on the One New Union "Listening Tour"

Dear AFTRA member:

This past weekend, the Joint National Board of AFTRA and SAG overwhelmingly approved the tentative agreement with AMPTP on a new Exhibit A of the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting (covering scripted network primetime and pay television programs) and the Producer-Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement (for feature motion pictures, scripted network primetime television and pay television programs) and the CW Supplement, which applies to both unions. Ratification ballots are being mailed today Dec. 10 to all eligible AFTRA and SAG members, with an expected return date in mid-January. The Joint National Board of AFTRA and SAG is recommending the agreement for your approval by voting YES when you receive your ballot.

Due to the holidays, the time period for reviewing and returning ballots has been extended to five weeks (rather than the traditional three-week time period) to provide every member the opportunity to carefully review the proposed agreements before voting. Informational meetings are scheduled in select cities including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami, Washington, D.C.-Baltimore, Seattle, San Francisco and Atlanta.

If you are a member of any of these Locals, look for an AFTRA Flash coming soon announcing the time and location for your Local informational meeting. When you receive your ballot, please read the materials carefully and attend and ask questions at your Local’s informational meeting. If a meeting is not scheduled for your Local, you may contact AFTRA with questions about the new agreement at primetime2011@aftra.com or call the AFTRA Exhibit A Ratification Hotline at 323.634.8172. An informed and educated membership is the backbone of a strong and successful union, so we are counting on you to listen, learn and make your voice heard by exercising your right to vote.

As you know, AFTRA and SAG leaders are engaged in ongoing, informal discussions in the Presidents’ Forum for One Union about how a single, expanded union might make sense for AFTRA and SAG members’ future. We are enthusiastic about the possibilities an expanded union can provide our members, and we are committed to making it happen successfully.

AFTRA’s elected leadership understands that this is a priority for many members, so we are pleased that President Reardon is moving the Forum’s discussions forward to develop a schedule and format to conduct outreach among representative groups of members. This “Listening Tour,” which kicked off in November in New York, will engage diverse categories of union members working in the various sectors of the industry, from different parts of the country in both large and small markets.

In addition, we will conduct our priority work of preparing for upcoming negotiations on important contracts that will expire during 2011: the AFTRA Interactive Media Agreement (expiring March 31, 2011); the AFTRA Non-Broadcast/Industrial/Educational Code – which AFTRA will negotiate jointly with SAG (expiring April 30, 2011); the AFTRA Network Code “Front of the Book” – which covers daytime serials, dramas in first-run syndication, variety, reality, game and talk shows, sports and morning news magazine programs (expiring Nov. 15, 2011). In large and small markets alike, these contracts are incredibly important to working members who, in a variety of ways, depend on the income and benefits from working under these AFTRA agreements to support themselves and their families, qualify for health and retirement benefits and pursue their aspirations as professionals in today’s challenging marketplace.

Please keep an eye out for your Winter issue of “AFTRA Magazine,” which has been mailed out and also available online at AFTRA.com. Our cover story is “Fighting Digital Theft: How AFTRA is working to protect its members.” Also included in this issue of AFTRA Magazine is the AFTRA 2010 “Year in Review” and a Q&A with legendary KTLA-TV Newsperson Stan Chambers. Please be sure, of course, to read the letters from President Reardon and National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth. Click here to read the magazine online.

On behalf of the AFTRA National Officers and the National Board, I congratulate you on another successful year as a union member. I wish you and yours a very happy and safe holiday season, and a prosperous 2011.

In solidarity,

Lainie Cooke
National Recording Secretary