December 13, 2007

Dear AFTRA Member,

Yesterday, the AFTRA Primetime Steering Committee alerted you and other AFTRA members that the formal Wages and Working Conditions (“W&W”) process for AFTRA’s contract terms covering Network Primetime Dramatic Programming will officially begin in February 2008. Formally known as “Exhibit A to the AFTRA Network Code,” these terms — which expire June 30, 2008 — cover dramas and sitcoms on Primetime Network TV, such as 'Til Death and Rules of Engagement and Pay TV programs, such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and Flight of the Conchords. These terms also set base rates and working conditions for AFTRA’s basic cable contracts.

Although our traditional process has been to schedule and announce formal W&W and negotiations jointly with the Screen Actors Guild, as you may be aware, SAG has taken steps to end the “Phase One” Bargaining Agreement, which was entered into by SAG and AFTRA in 1981 and under which the terms of our separate, but identical, contracts have been negotiated since that time.

AFTRA has nonetheless recommended to SAG that we work together in the development of proposals, information sharing, and coordination of efforts for the greater good of working performers throughout the industry. The staffs of the two unions are scheduled to meet later this month to determine the best way to proceed, should SAG wish to do so. In any event, our responsibility to you and all AFTRA members requires that a schedule for formal W&W — that had been delayed while AFTRA waited to learn whether SAG wished to continue the Phase One Agreement as it existed — be commenced as soon as possible.

Your AFTRA elected and staff leadership is also closely monitoring the situation involving the strike by the Writers Guild of America, as well as recent developments with the Directors Guild of America. As you may be aware, out of respect for the anticipated schedule of WGA negotiations, the AFTRA National Board in April 2007 extended the terms of the Network TV Code “front of the book” — which covers all programming other than network primetime dramatic programs, such as daytime dramas, talk shows, variety, reality, sports, and other formats — from November 15, 2007, to January 31, 2008. Negotiations with the producers on the “front of the book” are scheduled to begin in mid-January.

Given the increasingly difficult situation involving the current work stoppage, your Network Code Negotiating Committee will continue to monitor developments as they evolve — with consideration of the writers and directors represented by our sister unions — and assess the current schedule for the “front of the book” TV Network Code negotiations accordingly. We take particular note that, like AFTRA, our sister union representing directors had delayed its traditional bargaining schedule and its members, like ours and all above and below-the-line union members throughout the industry, have been deeply affected by this work stoppage.

We are encouraged by today’s announcement by the Directors Guild of America, and are hopeful that successful negotiations by our sister union will serve to facilitate fair and equitable resolution of current and future negotiations for all entertainment industry unions.

AFTRA recognizes that the issues affecting all talent in the entertainment and media industries require good faith negotiations on the part of not just unions, but a commitment to good faith bargaining on the part of employers in reaching a fair agreement.

We have more in common with our sister unions than we have differences. AFTRA members should rest assured that whether it is primetime or any other day part, the primary goal and decision-making of your union will be governed by a single priority: pursuing the best strategy that will secure strong and fair contracts for you and all members — actors, singers, dancers, announcers, newspersons, sportscasters, hosts, and the thousands of AFTRA performers — who make the business of television possible.

Please check the AFTRA website at www.aftra.com for updates on late-breaking developments.

In Solidarity,

ROBERTA REARDON
AFTRA National President
KIM ROBERTS HEDGPETH
AFTRA National Executive Director

 

 

 

 

 

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