AFTRA Music Video Dancers and UNITE HERE Hotel Workers Pledge Mutual Support

AFTRA Music Video Dancers and UNITE HERE Hotel Workers Pledge Mutual Support

Dancers lend support to striking W Hollywood Hotel workers, both groups struggling for a first contract

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 28, 2011) – Elected member leaders and music video dancers from the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO – a national union of more than 70,000 recording artists, broadcasters and actors – today lent their support to workers at the popular W Hotel in Hollywood who walked off the job in a one-day strike to protest not being able to take breaks.

Professional music video dancers are also fighting for a fair union contract. They joined the UNITE HERE Local 11 workers on their picket line because they share similar issues on the job, despite working in different industries.

"We are here today with our sisters and brothers from UNITE HERE Local 11 because we want the record labels – and the rest of Hollywood – to know that we are prepared to take our fight for a fair contract covering music videos to the next level and to the streets,” said AFTRA Dancer Dana Wilson. “All workers, whether they are hotel workers or dancers in music videos, deserve the dignity and protections of a union contract.”

Wilson continued: “The 70,000 members of AFTRA are proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the members of UNITE HERE in telling the Companies: WE DESERVE A BREAK!"

“We are on strike today to show the W Hollywood that we deserve the right to take breaks,” said Mildred Velasquez, a W housekeeper. “We are excited to be joined by music video dancers who also need breaks on the job. Whether it’s in a hotel or at a video production, management must respect the limits of our bodies.”

While AFTRA has placed a high priority on achieving a fair agreement, industry representatives have been slow in responding to AFTRA’s proposal and setting dates for continued negotiations. AFTRA and UNITE HERE pledged total support of each other’s campaigns for safe working conditions.

“Hotel and food service workers of UNITE HERE Local 11 are 100 percent behind AFTRA dancers,” said Thomas Walsh, president of UNITE HERE Local 11. “We are ready to do whatever it takes to demonstrate our support.”

Maria Elena Durazo, Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO addressed the crowd, as did AFTRA National Board member and Los Angeles Local First Vice President Susan Boyd Joyce. Also walking the hotel workers’ picket line were Local and National Board members Ron Morgan, Jon Joyce and Sharon Ferguson who is also a dancer involved in the music video negotiations.

On June 21, AFTRA began negotiations for a music video contract with representatives of Sony, UMG, Warner, EMI, Disney and most of their subsidiary labels. A successful contract will provide breaks and other provisions for dancers and other professional performers.

In August, dancers stepped up their efforts by launching a social media and video campaign called “It's About Time.”

“I’ve worked 24-hours on a music video, without enough food, without breaks,” said AFTRA dancer Kevin Stea in one of the videos. “The circumstances that you sometimes have to do these jobs sometimes are completely outrageous." Stea is 20-year professional dancer who has appeared in Michael Jackson, Madonna and Lady Gaga videos.

The campaign’s theme, “It’s About Time,” refers to the 30-year history of the modern music video, the recent resurgence in the popularity and profitability of music videos and the need for dancers and other performers to finally be recognized for the talent and professionalism they bring to the music video industry.

About AFTRA
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.

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DISCLAIMER: AFTRA is a union that is comprised of a variety of television and radio performers, including newspersons. The union's support of this initiative should not be interpreted to be the position of any individual member. As a policy matter and in accordance with the AFTRA National Constitutions, AFTRA does not raise funds or endorse political parties or candidates for publicly elected office.