Dear AFTRA Member:

Since the beginning of 2008, AFTRA members have successfully resolved five national labor agreements including: Sound Recordings, Network TV, Non-Broadcast/Industrial, CBS/ABC Network News, and most recently Primetime TV (Exhibit A to the Net Code). Now it’s time for us to look ahead, confront challenges, embrace opportunities, and refocus our energies on priorities for working members.

Before turning to these issues, I want to recognize those who supported AFTRA members and the ratification of the new primetime TV contract, which achieved solid gains for every category of performer. We salute the AFTRA Local Presidents throughout the country, and the many joint members of SAG and AFTRA—such as those in Chicago, Florida, Houston, Nashville, New York, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle—who took a courageous stand to publicly support the contract and, equally important, the core union principle of solidarity. We appreciate the concern and interest in the welfare of AFTRA members and their livelihoods demonstrated by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the community of franchised talent agents represented by ATA and NATR. We also must acknowledge our colleagues and allies in the labor community and entertainment industry who shared research, accurate reporting, and invaluable insight during recent negotiations. In this spirit, we want to express our appreciation for the ongoing support of the American Federation of Musicians, American Guild of Variety Artists, Directors Guild of America, International Cinematographers Guild, Los Angeles Central Labor Council, and in particular, our strategic partners at the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees.

Moving forward, I want to note some recent efforts to enhance and protect the welfare of AFTRA members. Here are some concrete examples of what we’ve already accomplished this summer:

  • The Performance Rights Act has moved on to full committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. The proposed bill will correct a blatant inequity in our current copyright laws by establishing a long-overdue compensation right to performers when their music is played on broadcast radio. Under current copyright law, songwriters are compensated when their compositions are played, but the performers who bring those same songs to life are denied a similar right. In June, following a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, the bill was passed out of the subcommittee and has been moved onto consideration by the full House Judiciary Committee.
  • The employees of Shadow Traffic in Philadelphia have joined the family of union workers: more than 40 producers and announcers at Metro-Shadow broadcasting, a division of Westwood One also known as “Shadow Traffic,” voted overwhelmingly on June 18 to unionize with AFTRA. Philadelphia Metro/Shadow is the latest union organizing victory for Metro/Shadow employees, and this new unit joins Metro/Shadow employees in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle and Pittsburgh who already have union protection with AFTRA.
  • AFTRA members recently won $175,000 in a settlement negotiated through our union, regarding payments for late-night programs on NBC. This complicated settlement secured payments for individual performers in varying amounts, in some cases more than $15,000 each.

These recent developments are just a small part of the day-to-day effort that makes it possible for working AFTRA members to maintain a good living and move forward in their chosen art and profession. I encourage every AFTRA member to keep apprised of developments by attending member meetings in their Local, checking for updates and information on www.aftra.com, and by reading AFTRA Magazine (a new issue should arrive in your mailbox later this summer). AFTRA is committed to providing members with more helpful information and education as we all move forward to our next set of negotiations in commercials and interactive, and beyond.

Working people in our industry, and throughout our country, are facing hardship in a challenging economic climate. But given AFTRA members’ collective strength, solidarity, and commitment, I have no doubt that we will continue to make positive strides forward and embrace new opportunities for all members.

In solidarity,

Roberta Reardon

 

 

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