AFTRA Members to Convene 63rd National Convention in Seattle

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AFTRA Members to Convene 63rd National Convention in Seattle

Seattle, Wash. (July 18, 2011) --- Members and staff of 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 will convene its 63rd National Convention in Seattle, July 21-23.

More than 300 AFTRA member Delegates representing the Union’s professional membership in 32 Locals and Chapters throughout the country will gather at the Westin Seattle Hotel for their three-day biennial National Convention, the Union’s highest governing body.

“Our Convention is a wonderful example of how a multi-jurisdictional media and entertainment union knits our complex interests into a unified organizing strategy for the entire Union,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon. “We all work for the same handful of employers. The more complex and integrated our relationships with those employers, the more leverage the Union has as a whole. It is critical that union members enjoy a union contract everywhere they work: from web series to primetime, from talk radio to the nightly news, from jingles to ‘American Idol’ to CDs and everywhere in between.”

During Convention, Delegates will hold elections for National Officers, take action on a number of Convention resolutions that will be brought to the floor and receive “state of the Union” reports from President Reardon, National Treasurer Matthew Kimbrough and National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, as well as committee reports from the Legislative and Public Affairs, Broadcast Steering, AFTRA Strategy Cabinet, Information Technology, Equal Employment Opportunities and other national committees.

Hedgpeth observed, “AFTRA members are uniquely poised to wield incredible power as they work across the spectrum of America’s second largest export to the world: entertainment and media. Technology is changing how, and indeed, if professional union performers and broadcasters can sustain their careers. As union members increasingly come under attack from corporations who are solely interested in their bottom line, the AFTRA Convention is a powerful organizing opportunity and a vivid example of how AFTRA members’ diversity gives them collective strength for the future.”

Elections for AFTRA National Officers, including President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Treasurer, Recording Secretary and seven unnumbered vice presidents will be held on Saturday evening, July 23. New York actor President Reardon, who has served as the Union’s National President since she was first elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2009, will seek a third term as AFTRA’s highest elected officer.

Elizabeth H. Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO will present the Convention’s keynote address on the morning of Saturday, July 23. Other confirmed speakers include**:

  • Jeff Johnson, President, Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
  • Willis Edwards, Vice President, NAACP, Beverly Hills/Hollywood Chapter
  • Seattle Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith
  • Tom Chamberlain, President, Oregon State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
  • Erik Van Rossum, Secretary-Treasurer, UNITE HERE Local 8, AFL-CIO
  • Leslie Tolf, President, Union Privilege, AFL-CIO
  • Actor Jean Smart (Hawaii Five-O, Designing Women)
  • U.S. Congressman Jim McDermott, 7th District of Washington
  • Ken Howard, President, Screen Actors Guild
  • Ferne Downey, President, Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists
  • Dennis Dreith, Independent Administrator, AFM & AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund
  • Bryan Calhoun, Vice President, New Media and External Affairs at SoundExchange

**Local Seattle members of the press are invited to cover any of our guest speakers. Please contact Christopher de Haan at 323.337.7309,; or Leslie Simmons at 213.447.4117, to arrange.

The AFTRA Seattle Local will host the Union’s traditional Social at the Seattle Aquarium on Thursday evening, July 21, after the opening day of the Convention.

The Convention will be preceded by the AFTRA National Board, which will meet in face-to-face plenary session on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 19 and 20. The recently elected new Board members will be formally seated following the Convention on Sunday morning, July 24. The previous AFTRA National Convention was held in Chicago in 2009.

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.