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AFTRA National Board Approves Joint Bargaining on Non-Broadcast Contract

LOS ANGELES and NEW YORK (Sept. 11, 2010) – The National Board of Directors of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA, AFL-CIO) – a national union of more than more 70,000 performers, broadcasters, recording artists and other talent working in the entertainment and news media – today met by videoconference plenary in Los Angeles and New York.

The National Board unanimously voted to conduct Wages and Working Conditions meetings and negotiation of the 2011 AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Non-Broadcast, Industrial and Educational Recorded Material jointly with Screen Actors Guild. The joint bargaining is subject to corresponding agreement by SAG under the traditional Phase One rules according to the terms of the AFL-CIO “No Raiding” Agreement. Further, the Board granted the AFTRA Administrative Committee the authority to approve committee members and a ratification process consistent with traditional Phase One rules. The current contract expires April 30, 2011.

The Board also granted the AFTRA Administrative Committee the authority to approve committee members, proposals and a ratification process for renegotiation of the 2009 AFTRA Interactive Media Agreement, which is set to expire on March 31, 2011. The AFTRA Interactive Agreement has not historically been negotiated under the rules of Phase One.

In her remarks to the National Board, AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon touched on several topics, including the Presidents’ Forum for a New Union.

“I believe that we must dedicate ourselves to the important task of working to create a new union for all our members: actors, recording artists and broadcasters. Changes in technology have changed the way we work, so we must look to the future, not to the past. As elected leaders, we have a responsibility to leave behind better unions than we have today. Whatever we create cannot be the same, because our work will not be the same. That is my challenge to all of us. That is the way to build power,” Reardon said.

AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth reported to the National Board that in the first quarter of the 2010-2011 fiscal year, AFTRA has collected in excess of $3 million in claims, grievances, arbitrations, legal proceedings and negotiated settlements on behalf of AFTRA members.

The Board of Directors approved the Finance Committee’s recommendation for an estimated $1.85 million upgrade to the AFTRA Integrated Computer Environment (AICE), the union’s national database system. AFTRA National Director of Information Technology Natasha Shields praised the Board’s approval saying, “This upgrade will position AFTRA to move forward and easily adapt to the ongoing changes in the entertainment and media businesses, while taking advantage of new technological opportunities in the 21st century.”

The National Board of Directors unanimously voted to express their support the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) workers at the Mott's Williamson plant in upstate New York – which is owned by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group – who have been on strike since May in protest of the company's unfair negotiations.

Shelby Scott, who serves as Union Chair of the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds Board of Trustees, reported that in August the Retirement Fund paid out more than $9.6 million in benefits to pensioners and their beneficiaries.

The Board also received reports from the AFTRA Foundation, and the National Finance, Legislative and Public Affairs, Performers with Disabilities, Young Performers, EEO, Multi-Regional Organizing Working Group, Blue Ribbon Committee on Agents and Audiobooks Steering committees.

The National Board convened its meeting in memory of those who died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, and in acknowledgement of those killed in the explosion of a gas pipeline on Sept. 9 in San Bruno, Calif., outside of San Francisco, and the professional broadcast journalists working to cover the disaster.

The AFTRA National Board will next meet by videoconference plenary in Los Angeles and New York in early 2011.

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.