CHICAGO (June 27, 2007) -- Members of American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, who are heard as program hosts and announcers on the 'Oprah & Friends' Program on XM Satellite Radio Channel 156, have entered into their first collective bargaining agreement with Oprah & Friends Inc., which produces content for that program.
"This ground-breaking agreement is the first contract that provides union salaries, benefits, and working conditions for talent on a program only carried by satellite radio," said Eileen Willenborg, AFTRA Chicago Local Executive Director, who worked with "Oprah & Friends" to reach an agreement. "I commend the producers at 'Oprah & Friends' for working together with AFTRA members to create a sensible and responsible agreement."
AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth concurred with Willenborg, saying "The work of AFTRA members in Chicago to bring union standards to employment opportunities in satellite radio can serve as a model for all broadcasters working in this new service."
The new agreement addresses compensation for program hosts and guests, including coverage for those who qualify for benefits from the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds. Additional provisions in the first contract include union security, grievance and arbitration, dues check-off, non-discrimination, late penalties, and the right to participate in pre-tax savings plans.
Retroactive from January 1, 2007, the agreement expires August 31, 2009. There are currently nine program hosts and one announcer covered by the AFTRA agreement.
Harpo Radio Inc. produces content for the Oprah & Friends channel (156) on XM Satellite Radio, which debuted on September 25, 2006. "Oprah & Friends" features a broad range of original daily and weekly programming on a variety of topics including self improvement, nutrition, fitness, health, home, finance and current events hosted by popular personalities from The Oprah Winfrey Show and O, The Oprah Magazine, including Dr. Maya Angelou, Dr. Robin Smith, Marianne Williamson, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Bob Greene, Nate Berkus, Jean Chatzky, and Gayle King. Plus, Oprah takes XM listeners’ calls on her weekly Talk to Me program. The Oprah & Friends channel is broadcast from a state-of-the-art XM studio in Chicago.