LOS ANGELES and NEW YORK (March 24, 2012) — The National Board of Directors of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO – a national union of more than 70,000 recording artists, broadcasters and actors – met today by videoconference plenary in Los Angeles and New York, and upon receiving a report of the music video negotiating committee, unanimously voted to authorize the AFTRA Administrative Committee (AdCom), or its successor, to issue a Do Not Work order for music videos at a time to be determined by the AdCom, or its successor.
Negotiations for a music video contract covering dancers, actors and other performers between AFTRA and representatives from Sony, UMG, Warner, EMI, Disney and most of their subsidiary labels started in June 2011.The most recent round took place Jan. 11 and 12. Negotiations have not resulted in an agreement, and terms offered by the labels were referred to by one member as “reprehensible.”
The Do Not Work order can be called against the record label or music video producer at a time to be determined by the AdCom, or its successor.
The Board also unanimously approved a tentative standard agreement, which will be made available to any employer who wishes to sign with AFTRA for the production of music videos. The AFTRA agreement includes provisions for an eight-hour work day, hazardous performances, coverage of choreographers and stunt performers, meal breaks and adequate dressing rooms and bathrooms.
In her President’s Report, three-term AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon, who was first elected in 2007, acknowledged the historic nature of the national board meeting, recognizing it may be the last of the AFTRA National Board. Reardon spoke about her time as leader of the union and about the growth she has seen in her tenure.
“The focus of this union has been how to handle the future, how to identify change, how to organize change and how to manage that change so that it helps not just a few of us but all of us,” Reardon said. “You have successfully stood up and taken the change that’s coming and embraced it. It’s such a remarkable thing for human beings to do, and you’ve done it repeatedly.”
Reardon also presented three Founders Award to two long-time members: San Francisco broadcast journalist and a former National Vice President Belva Davis, who is retiring after six decades as newsperson, and Los Angeles actor and National Board Member Paul Petersen, who is the chair of the Young Performers Committee. The Founders Award was also presented to AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth for her life-long dedication to the labor movement and AFTRA.
Reardon also acknowledged AFTRA National Board member and Washington D.C. broadcast journalist Joe Krebs, who is retiring after spending 32 years as a morning anchor for the local NBC news. Krebs is a past recipient of the Founders Award.
The Board unanimously approved a successor agreement to its Comedy Central contract, with a commendation to the negotiators and the negotiating committee. Stephen Burrow, New York Local Executive Director, reported on the new agreement, which includes an increase in rates for both scripted and non-scripted programming, including “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” The agreement also establishes coverage of original programming made for new media productions, increased contributions to health and retirement plans, a significant increase in the residual structure and a minor’s provision for young performers, the latter of which was not included in the previous agreement.
AFTRA National Director of Broadcasting Mary Cavallaro reported that negotiations will begin with CBS Network News on April 11 and 12. Cavallaro is also currently in the middle of negotiations with Total Traffic Network. There are 11 bargaining units and Cavallaro and her department worked with TTN owner, Clear Channel, to have the negotiations consolidated. To date, there have been three separate negotiating sessions.
Cavallaro reported that when Clear Channel purchased troubled broadcaster Metro Traffic, the company integrated the two traffic companies in various cities. As a result of the integration, AFTRA negotiated an agreement to cover those previous non-union TTN employees, who will now be protected by the AFTRA contract.
Shelby Scott, Union Chair of the Trustees of the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds, reported on the status of the AFTRA H&R Funds. The Trustees created a new benefit, designed to help cover the cost of traditional hearing aids for participants and dependents. Scott also reported the Pension Plan is certified in the "Green Zone." The next meeting of the Trustees will be in June.
In other business, the AFTRA Board elected New York member David Alan Basche to the board of directors of the AFTRA Foundation to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Rich Holter, a founding member of the AFTRA Foundation Board who passed away in December 2011. The board unanimously approved the nomination.
The board also received committee reports for young performers, women’s, EEO, legislation and performers with disabilities.
The National Board convened its meeting in the memory of members who died since the January meeting, including New York recording artist Whitney Houston, New York actor Sam Coppola and Los Angeles actress Zina Bethune and Los Angeles recording artist Eric Lowen.
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.