May 14, 2008
Dear AFTRA Member:
The news blackout limits what I can tell you about the progress of our Primetime TV negotiations currently underway in Los Angeles. But there is plenty of other positive news I would like to share with you, and the more than 70,000 of your fellow AFTRA members who work as performers, journalists, broadcasters, recording artists and singers, and other talent in the entertainment and news media:
Moving Forward on Primetime TV Negotiations
I am able to report that the 31 working performers on the Primetime Negotiating Committee chaired by Matthew Kimbrough have been laboring diligently and responsibly in talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers regarding a new three-year agreement to Exhibit A of the Network Code. We’re making progress—and the Negotiating Committee will be providing you with an update very soon.
National Contracts Bringing New Benefits
AFTRA members who have worked under the Sound Recordings contract—please vote. AFTRA members in good standing who had earnings from the Sound Recordings Code since July 1, 2002, should vote online or by phone to approve the new 2007-2010 AFTRA National Sound Recordings Code by 12 noon EDT on May 22. The new agreement—which includes wage increases for session performers, improvements in health and pension coverage for royalty artists, and a new formula for compensation on digital downloads—was the result of negotiations with the major record companies by working AFTRA recording artists and singers.
Approval of the Sound Recordings Code will mark the third national contract negotiated and ratified by members this year. Last month members voted by a 93% margin to ratify the AFTRA Network Television Code, which improves wages, working conditions, and protections for AFTRA members across all program formats—and also includes new provisions covering reuse and production of content in new media. And in March 2008, broadcasters overwhelmingly approved the AFTRA Network Staff Newspersons’ Agreements for ABC and CBS, which increase pay for staff newspersons and fees for freelance correspondents, improve retirement coverage, and cover work by members in new digital platforms.
$1 Million in Residual Payouts from New Program
As of next month, a 17-month-old program administered by AFTRA Los Angeles will have paid out $1 million to AFTRA members whose residuals checks and other payments were put in the Unable to Locate Trust Account. With payments ranging in size from less than $15 to nearly $25,000, about 1,500 members have so far shared in the bounty.
New Primetime and Cable Shows Covered by AFTRA
I want to congratulate returning cast members, and welcome new cast members, from primetime and cable TV shows that are covered by AFTRA contracts. Joining “Rules of Engagement” on CBS, “Til Death” on FOX, and “The Reaper” on CW as AFTRA primetime shows are the new CBS situation comedies “Project Gary” and “Harper’s Island”—both covered by Exhibit A to the Network Code. In basic cable TV, returning shows include "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" on F/X and “The Bill Engvall Show” on TBS. New AFTRA-covered shows on basic cable TV include “Sons of Anarchy” on F/X, “The Cleaner” on A&E;, “Factory” on Spike, “Leverage” on TNT, Paris Hilton’s “My New BFF” on MTV, and “Roomies,” “The Secret Lives of the American Teenager,” and “Middleman” on ABC Family.
While you’ll be receiving more details on all these developments in the coming weeks, I wanted to share the good news with you now. These are exciting times for AFTRA members as we move forward to protect and improve the working lives of all performers. Please contact your AFTRA Local office or visit www.aftra.com for more information or on how you can get involved.
AFTRA National President