Dear Fellow AFTRA Member:
The 2007 AFTRA Convention was one of the most successful and uplifting for AFTRA members in recent memory. The delegates you elected to represent you at your union’s highest governing body did Herculean work on your behalf in committee meetings, in caucuses, and during formal session at the Convention. As I’ve committed to do – especially for members who didn’t attend this year’s Convention – I will provide follow up reports which expand on the work that your elected member delegates accomplished in Philadelphia.
One of the historic actions taken by the elected delegates – actors, announcers, journalists, singers, recording artists, and other categories of members -- was to vote, by an overwhelming 91% majority, to seek direct affiliation with the nation’s largest labor federation: the AFL-CIO. To better understand the import of this decision, here are answers to questions that I’ve been asked:
Why affiliate with the AFL-CIO?
Isn’t AFTRA already part of the AFL-CIO?
What other unions in the entertainment and media industries are direct affiliates of the AFL-CIO?
Would AFTRA leave the Four A’s as part of this process?
If AFTRA leaves the Four A’s, can AFTRA members now work non-union theater, film or in another Four A union’s jurisdiction?
This was not an oversight, but a conscious decision. Specifically, Article XXXI of AFTRA’s constitution requires that AFTRA members honor “do not work” orders applied by sister unions in their jurisdictions. For example, AFTRA is working closely with Actors’ Equity on a joint outreach and education program to educate professional performers that members of one union cannot accept non-union work in the jurisdiction of a sister union (for example, non-union tours in AEA’s jurisdiction or non-union commercials in AFTRA’s jurisdiction). This obligation, and such cooperative efforts, will not change as a result of our direct affiliation with the AFL-CIO. Also, AFTRA has historically honored such principles even with non-Four A’s unions, such as CWA/NABET or WGA-East when these unions have faced work stoppages, job actions or lockouts.
Would this prevent a merger with SAG?
Does this change mean AFTRA will merge with some other union in the AFL-CIO?
Will AFTRA be required to endorse political candidates?
Given these challenges and the power of the employers we must bargain with, doing business the old way is simply no longer tenable. We must work more strategically with other unions in the media industries to organize more work opportunities, negotiate stronger contracts and provide greater leverage for actors, singers, broadcasters and other performers in a radically changing environment. Direct affiliation with the AFL-CIO is the surest route to ensure our ability to take full advantage of such partnerships.
In order to accomplish this, it was necessary to bring the matter to AFTRA’s highest governing body – the AFTRA National Convention. The next regular AFTRA Convention does not meet until 2009. AFTRA members cannot wait another two years to confront digital technology and corporate employers that grow more powerful every day. The solid vote by the members elected to the Convention to affiliate directly with the AFL-CIO – with 91% saying “yes” -- demonstrates the importance of acting boldly, and acting now.
Now is the time for us to move forward and explore partnerships that—with your support—will provide the necessary leverage to negotiate better contracts for all members.
Join your fellow AFTRA members by signing up for local committees or volunteer by contacting me at: President@AFTRA.Com. Let’s work together to protect and improve jobs for AFTRA members.
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