December 28, 2004, Los Angeles/New York - In national voting completed yesterday, members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) voted overwhelmingly to approve the new three-year Network Television Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting (the “Network Code”).
This major AFTRA contract covers performers on daytime dramatic serials, late night entertainment programs, sports, game, talk and award shows, syndicated programs and other AFTRA TV shows with the exception of prime time dramatic programs. The talks covering prime time dramatic programming, conducted jointly with the Screen Actors Guild, are on hiatus during the holidays and set to resume January 5, 2005, in Los Angeles.
The new three-year pact, effective November 16, 2004, will remain in full force until November 15, 2007. AFTRA and industry negotiators reached agreement on Friday, October 29, 2004, after three weeks of bargaining in New York.
Consistent with deals achieved by other Industry unions, the newly ratified agreement includes significant increases in employer contributions to the AFTRA Health and Retirement Plans (H&R; Plans). The combination of higher employer contribution rates, increased earnings caps and the reallocation of supplemental pension contributions is expected to yield a 25% increase in dollars flowing into the AFTRA H&R; Plans during the life of the agreement. Providing additional resources to the benefit plans was the union’s number one priority at the table. In addition, the agreement contains:
· Increases in program fees across the board;
· Expansion of coverage for Stunt Coordinators and Choreographers; and
· Additional protections for serial performers at the end of their contract cycles.
“As we move into the New Year, with our flagship Net Code television negotiation completed achieving impressive gains, and now well into bargaining on our primetime contract, AFTRA can take real pride in the accomplishments of the last year. What we cannot do, however, is rest, if we are to meet the complex and multiplying challenges faced by our union and our members. As well as successfully bargaining contracts, AFTRA must also stand up for the rights of our broadcast journalists and performers in an increasingly restrictive and hostile legal and regulatory environment, advocate for comprehensive health care reform in the face of the worsening crisis in health care affordability and finance, and organize programming in Cable, Spanish Language and other arenas where employers continue to undercut industry standards of fairness and equity. We must also continue our campaign to challenge the monopoly power of corporate media in defense of diversity of ideas and images and the American People's right to news honestly reported without fear or favor. In order to get the job done, our focus in 2005 must be on coalition building and working collaboratively and effectively within the labor movement, within our communities nationwide and internationally and within our own diverse membership of performers and broadcasters throughout the country,” stated AFTRA’s National President John Connolly.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists -- affiliated with the AFL-CIO -- is a diverse union representing nearly 80,000 professional broadcasters and performers nationwide working in news and entertainment programming on television and radio as well as in the sound recording industry, commercials and industrial work, and newer technologies such as interactive games, Internet production and CD ROMs.