LOS ANGELES and BOSTON (August 29, 2011) --- The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO – a national union of more than 70,000 recording artists, broadcasters, actors, singers, dancers and other performers who work across the spectrum of media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings and digital media – today announced that AFTRA Boston Local Assistant Executive Director Tom Higgins has been promoted to Executive Director of the Boston Local, effective Aug. 29.
Higgins will oversee the daily operations of the AFTRA Boston Local office and staff, as well as the Screen Actors Guild’s Boston Branch operations. He will be responsible for overseeing administration of all national contracts for television and radio programming, sound recordings, commercials, non-broadcast/industrial and new media productions produced in Boston, Massachusetts and the New England area, and he will serve as chief negotiator for all AFTRA Local union contracts, including local broadcast station contracts.
Higgins succeeds longtime Boston Executive Director Dona Sommers who retired on Aug. 29 after 21 years of service with AFTRA, and who will continue working with the Union in a consulting capacity into 2012. Higgins has served as the Local’s Broadcast Director since 2000 and as Assistant Executive Director since 2007. For the past 11 years, he has led station contract negotiations at the fourteen New England stations administered by the Boston Local.
“I am extremely pleased to welcome Tom to his new position as AFTRA Boston Local Executive Director,” said AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth. “Tom is a sophisticated and aggressive negotiator who brings an understanding of the both local and national 21st century news and entertainment industries to his tireless advocacy on behalf of AFTRA broadcasters and freelance performers.”
AFTRA Boston Local President Paul Horn praised Higgins’ promotion saying, “With his intimate knowledge of the challenges facing our broadcast community, and the trust and respect he has earned with our members, we are thrilled to have Tom take the reins. Tom also brings a strong and important understanding of AFTRA’s national operation to this position. He has had and will continue to have a terrific mentor in Dona, as well as support from our wonderful staff. We are in good hands.”
Sommers observed: “Tom has a wealth of experience and breadth of knowledge that will allow him to transition into his new position with a solid foundation. He is a skilled negotiator and a strong, persuasive advocate for our members.”
Prior to starting at AFTRA Boston as Broadcast Director in 2000, Higgins worked for five years as a Staff Coordinator at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 285 where he developed and implemented bargaining campaigns and a servicing program for approximately 5,000 mental health, nursing home and public sector employees. Before that, he worked for SEIU Local 285 as a Union Representative negotiating contracts, organizing and mobilizing members and preparing and filing arbitration cases and National Labor Relations Board charges. Higgins has also worked as a Union Organizer for the New England Health Care Employees Union (NEHCEU) District 1199, and as a Quartermaster, Second Class Petty Officer for the U.S. Coast Guard in the early to mid-1980s. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society.