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Member Delegates Re-Elect Roberta Reardon AFTRA National President

Posted July 25, 2011

Member Delegates Re-Elect Roberta Reardon AFTRA National President

Union Collects $24 Million in Claims for Members

AFTRA member Delegates to the 63rd National Convention of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, re-elected New York actor Roberta Reardon as their National President of AFTRA. President Reardon was re-elected to a third two-year term on Saturday evening, July 23, the final day of Convention in Seattle.

“I am a proud member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists,” said President Reardon. “It is a tremendous privilege and an honor to represent AFTRA in the great halls of labor at the AFL-CIO, and to know that when I speak on behalf of AFTRA, I am representing this wonderful, complex and interwoven tapestry of members.” President Reardon also serves as a National Vice President of the AFL-CIO. 

Earlier in the day, during her President’s Report to the Delegates, Reardon articulated her hope for a single new union through the combined memberships of AFTRA and Screen Actors Guild: “AFTRA members look at the landscape of our industries and we see the tides of change rolling in: we understand that companies have consolidated their power, and that we face corporations who have learned that diversification is the key to their success. We know that union members need more power to deal with these international giants, more power as we face the digital era that is fast upon us and more power as we struggle with increasing demands of a work world that has become more unorganized as it grows.

“AFTRA members believe,” she continued, “that one of the best ways to grow that power is to do what we have always done in the face of adversity: lock arms and stand together.”

To view President Reardon's report, click on the links below:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

In her report to Convention Delegates, AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth – a 30-year veteran of AFTRA and the entertainment and media labor movement – shared union density research prepared by Mary Kay Henry for the Albert Shanker Institute and statistics available on Unionstats.com. She reported that union density in the private and public work sectors in America has plummeted from 29.3% in 1964 to just 12.6% in 2004. If current trends continue, union density nationwide is projected to drop to 8.5% in 2014.

AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon (L) and
AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth.

Photo: Rowland Photography

Responding to this challenge, Hedgpeth outlined the Union’s organizing vision for the future: “We must learn to speak the language that appeals to a younger generation to erase their antipathy to unions and educate them why being union matters. We have no choice but to mobilize the relevant talent pool, whether they be our own members or non-union workers, lest we give employers an escape valve by which to erode the standards our members have fought for in their collective bargaining agreements. We must have the capacity to require an intransigent employer to do what’s right, and be prepared to do so, by whatever means necessary.

“We must be prepared to mobilize our members in every other aspect of their union’s work to ensure that the respect, dignity and middle class living they were promised yesterday, is theirs today and tomorrow,” said Hedgpeth. She also announced that the union had collected $24 million in claims for AFTRA member in the last year.

Hedgpeth expressed her support for the union’s efforts to unite AFTRA and SAG into a single, powerful new union, saying: “I’m the daughter of two performers, both of whom were members of multiple unions, so I’ve always recognized that it was smart to combine AFTRA and SAG – as a start. I hope that this time, the third time, will finally be the charm.”

To view NED Hedgpeth's report, click on the links below:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

The morning opened with a video message from Screen Actors Guild President Ken Howard, who had planned to attend the convention as a guest, but was unable to because of work. “The incredible opportunity we have to stand together is the most profound way possible in becoming one union,” Howard said in the video. “What we have in common is so much great than anything that separates us. Actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers, news editors, stunt performers, voiceover artists – we all have something far more important in common: we are all committed to the cause of unionism.

“We know we are stronger when we are standing together,” he concluded. “We are union and we are one.”

Also addressing delegates in the morning was Ferne Downey, president of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, who spoke of how important it is for the entertainment industry adapt to the changing industry. “As performers, we are seeking out new mediums and embracing new opportunities,” Downey said. “TV actors are becoming videogame heroes by donning performance capture suits and performers are taking the initiative to create their own web-based series.

“As we adapt to this new world, we need to make sure our union remains strong and relevant,” she added.

In-between presentations, delegates were treated to several videos produced by the National Organizing Department highlighting the actions and initiatives members have been participating in over the last two years.

Among them, a presentation ending with Peoria Local President Garry Moore about the struggle by AFTRA broadcast members in Peoria working at WEEK/WHOI-TV, whose employer, Granite Broadcasting, wants to remove local news and produce it 300 miles away in Fort Wayne, Ind. “We are guardians of democracy and we owe it to our communities to speak up when democracy is threatened,” Moore said.

Members can help save local news by Tweeting their support and contacting Granite Broadcasting and its owner, Silver Point. Go to www.aftra.com/savelocalnews.htm.

AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler addressed the delegates, congratulating the Union on its organizing efforts and encouraging them to continue on. “Everything we do should be focused on how we grow,” she said. “I, like many others in the labor movement, are watching AFTRA closely. What you’ve accomplished in that last two years since your last convention is astonishing.”

Shuler also spoke about the AFL-CIO’s Young Workers initiative and the importance of reaching out to younger workers to educate them on the importance of the labor movement. “The truth is that young workers need the labor movement, but we need young workers,” Shuler said. “We need to invite them in and give them a place and voice in the union movement. It’s up to us to connect with them and really listen to their priorities. AFTRA has done a phenomenal job reaching out to their young members.”

Also addressing delegates was Bryan Calhoun, president of SoundExchange, who spoke briefly about the royalties collected for sound recordings artists, who are missing out by not searching to see if they have money. SoundExchange is a non-profit performance rights organization that collects statutory royalties from satellite radio, Internet radio, cable TV music channels and similar platforms for streaming sound recordings.

“We’re collecting and holding this money for you,” Calhoun said. “You helped establish the right. So, now that this right has been established, and we’re collecting this money, please step forward and reap the awards of your efforts.”

Members can search SoundExchange by going to www.soundexchange.com.

Rounding out the stellar group of speakers for the convention were U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle) and Seattle native and AFTRA member Jean Smart. McDermott spoke of his dedication to protecting the intellectual property rights of media professionals.

“Every artist I know has made a living stitching together their livelihood, and I think any way we can make that living more reliable is better off for society and the artist,” McDermott said. “I’m passionate that creative people get paid for their work.”

Smart, a 33-year member of AFTRA, praised the delegates for their work during the convention. “We do have an important voice and somehow we can all do it,” she told the delegates. “I do think we have strength in numbers.”

In the evening session, delegates nominated national officers, including president, national first vice-president, vice-presidents, treasurer and recording secretary.
Elected were:

Roberta Reardon, President
Matt Kimbrough (Los Angeles, Actor), Treasurer
Bob Edwards (Washington/Baltimore, Broadcaster), First Vice-President
Gabrielle Carteris (Los Angeles, Actor), Second Vice-President
Denny Delk (San Francisco, Actor), Vice-President
Holter Graham (New York, Actor), Vice-President
Craig Dellimore (Chicago, Broadcaster), Vice-President
Bob Butler (San Francisco, Broadcaster), Vice-President
Catherine Brown (Philadelphia, Broadcaster), Vice-President
Jim Ferguson (Nashville, Recording Artist), Vice-President
Denis Berkfeldt (Denver, Actor), Vice-President
Lainie Cooke (New York, Actor), Recording Secretary

AFTRA member leaders also took action on several resolutions. Click here to read the AFTRA news release issued immediately following the Convention.

Click here for more 63rd AFTRA National Convention news and videos.

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