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Convention Update: Day 1

Posted July 21, 2011

AFTRA Member Delegates Gather for Opening Day of National Convention

NAACP Vice President Edwards and Washington and Oregon State Labor Council Presidents Among Guest Speakers

More than 200 AFTRA Member Delegates gathered today at the Seattle Westin to convene the 63rd AFTRA National Convention.

Following the gavel-down Call to Order, the Color Guard of I Corp of the United States Army, headquartered at Joint Base Lewis McChord, presented the American and Washington State flags in a formal procession. AFTRA Seattle member Ellen McLain, who performs in the cast of the Seattle Opera, regaled the crowd with a stirring rendition of the National Anthem.

National President Roberta Reardon, Northwest Regional and Seattle Local Executive Director Brad Anderson and Seattle Local President and broadcaster Steve Kreuger welcomed attendees with greetings during the morning session.

"Over the years," said President Kreuger, "we have worked very hard at one thing, and that is: what does the person do who is sitting across the table from me? I was a broadcaster when I first came to the Local Board, and I didn't know the actors on our board. There wasn't much work here, so it became my priority as president to understand where they come from. Our actors have supported our journalists and our journalists have supported our actors. They are finest men and women I've ever worked with and I appreciate them so much."

He continued: "These are indeed tough times for our working people. As we press forward into this new future, we want to be innovative and find a solution to our problems together."

President Reardon noted: "The AFTRA Convention is a special time for this union. No matter your earnings level, no matter where you come from, no matter what part of the industry you work in, AFTRA members gather every two years to share our hopes, our dreams and our ambitions. Each Convention, we sit together and chart our collective course for the future."

Delegates also enjoyed welcoming remarks from Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Tom Chamberlain, President of the Oregon AFL-CIO, and Darryl Smith, Deputy Mayor of Seattle who said: "We have a rich content industry here in Seattle, and we want you to know there is a lot going here."

Willis Edwards, Vice President of the NAACP Beverly Hills/Hollywood Chapter and National Board member, encouraged Delegates to mobilize and join together, along with allies in their communities: "We must join forces together to fight for diversity in the entertainment industry. We are proud of the AFTRA and Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Entertainment Partnership, and I am so pleased to be here today on behalf of the NAACP welcome you to your Convention."

AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth said: "We're thrilled and grateful that Vice President Willis Edwards was able to join us for our opening day of convention to address the delegates from around the country about our exciting entertainment partnership with the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP. We strongly value our partnership with the NAACP, and are proud to have worked with Vice President Edwards and the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP on important projects during these past several months and look forward to our work together in the future. Vice President Edwards and our other guest speakers this morning have made for a very special and memorable opening day of Convention."

The 63rd AFTRA National Convention will convene again tomorrow morning to continue the Union's business on Friday and Saturday. National Officer elections will be held on Saturday evening.

For more updates from the convention, and video of the speakers, click here.

About AFTRA

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. Visit AFTRA online at www.aftra.com.

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