AFTRA National Board Meets Prior to Biennial Convention in Chicago

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AFTRA National Board Meets Prior to Biennial Convention in Chicago

Board Recommends Initiation Fee Increase and Endorses Richard L. Trumka for AFL-CIO President

CHICAGO (August 5, 2009)—The National Board of Directors of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) held its two-day plenary meeting prior to the 62nd AFTRA National Convention which starts on Thursday.

The National Board announced today that it has overwhelmingly voted to recommend that delegates to the AFTRA Convention approve a $300 increase in the initiation fee that applicants to membership in AFTRA pay upon joining. The recommendation states that all additional revenues raised as a result of the fee increase would be exclusively earmarked for organizing to increase employment opportunities for union performers and broadcasters so they can benefit from the improved wages and working conditions of AFTRA contracts. The proposed increase—which was recommended to the Board by both the AFTRA Strategy Cabinet and the Finance Committee—would raise the standard initiation fee to $1,600 from $1,300. If approved by Convention delegates, it would go into effect on November 1, 2009. The last time AFTRA increased its initiation fee was in 2003. Annual membership dues remain unchanged.

“In this challenging economy, union members need strategic and targeted organizing now more than ever,” said AFTRA National President Reardon. “The additional revenues raised from the initiation fee increase will provide current and new AFTRA members with the resources needed to build an effective organizing infrastructure appropriate for the challenges we face in our business today. Professional performers, broadcast journalists and recording artists employed in the rapidly changing entertainment and media industries need a strong union behind them. Strength is sustained through power, and power is achieved through organizing.”

The AFTRA National Board also unanimously voted to endorse Richard L. Trumka for President of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the largest federation of unions in the United States. Trumka, who currently serves as Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, is running unopposed for President in his bid to succeed current AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney, who is not seeking re-election. Trumka was first elected Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO in 1995, after having served three terms as president of the United Mine Workers of America.

In addition, the Board overwhelmingly voted to approve adding the negotiation and administration of the 2009 AFTRA Code of Fair Practice for Non-Broadcast, Industrial and Educational Recorded Material to the current AFL-CIO facilitated Joint Commercials Contracts Negotiating Agreement with Screen Actors Guild (SAG). It was under this agreement that the AFTRA and SAG Commercials Contracts were negotiated this past spring and are currently administered. On July 11, the AFTRA Strategy Cabinet voted to recommend this action to the Board, and AFTRA requested that SAG consider this addition. The SAG National Board of Directors approved the same action at its meeting on July 25.

Further, the Board voted to authorize the negotiating committee to seek an extension of the Non-Broadcast Code for a period not to exceed 18 months in order to provide for an appropriate amount of time for members to conduct a comprehensive joint national wages and working conditions process. The current AFTRA and SAG agreements expire on October 31, 2009. No formal negotiations with the industry are scheduled at this time.

In other actions, the Board:

  • Received a report on the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds from Shelby Scott, Union Chair of the AFTRA H&R Trustees
  • Approved the transfer of assets from the AFTRA Heller Memorial Foundation to the AFTRA Foundation
  • Approved a number of Regional Commercials Codes governing terms for performers working on commercials made in and played in regional areas including Arizona, Georgia, Tennessee, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and the Tri-State area (Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, OH; Indianapolis, IN and Louisville, KY)
  • Received reports from member committees including Agent Relations, Audio Books Steering, Basic Cable, Broadcast Steering, Equal Employment Opportunities, Finance, Information Technologies, Women’s and Young Performers Committees, among others

As previously announced, the next meeting of the National Board will take place on the morning of Sunday, August 9, following the conclusion of the 62nd AFTRA National Convention, when the newly elected Board will be formally seated.