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‘Good News’ from AFTRA Retirement Fund
as Improvements to Pension Plan Announced
Shelby Scott, chair of the AFTRA H&R; Funds, ponders a question from a delegate
as part of her report to the National Convention
PHILADELPHIA (July 20,2007)---The retirement plan for members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is improving with increases in the accrual rate, covered earnings, and annual maximum benefit effective December.
“This is good news for all AFTRA members,” said Shelby Scott, chair of the Board of Trustees of the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds, in a report to delegates at the AFTRA 70th Anniversary National Convention. “The Trustees were able to increase the pension rates because the fund is in better shape now than it has been over the past few years.”
Pension plan improvements, effective December 1, 2007, include:
• Increase from 1.5% to 1.7% in the percentage rate used to accrue benefits for annual covered earnings up to $50,000.
• Increase from $170,000 to $200,000 in the maximum covered earnings used to calculate pension benefits.
• Increase from $96,000 to $108,000 the annual maximum benefit.
“The increases announced today will pay off in bigger pension checks for retirees in years to come,” said AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth. “These improvements demonstrate the ongoing commitment to provide the best possible benefits for AFTRA members.”
Ms. Scott reported that the AFTRA Retirement Plan has more than $2 billion in assets—and is funded at 96.7% when using the actuarial value of assets to the present value of accumulated benefits. “Our fund is way over the federal benchmark of 80%, which is used to determine whether a plan is in trouble and action must be taken.”
AFTRA members were cautioned about a letter required by law that will be sent later this year to all participants by the AFTRA Funds. “Don’t panic,” Ms. Scott said. “Because of the calculation required, the letter will look a little scary. That’s because the assumptions the Funds are required to use by the government are very low and are not based on the true performance of the wide range of investments the AFTRA Funds have.”
Since its inception in January 1956 through February 2007, the AFTRA Retirement Fund has paid $924,974,792 to AFTRA members and their families in annuities, lump sum payments, and death benefits.
The Fund grew out of the AFTRA Pension and Welfare Plan that was the product of a bold negotiation move in 1954 when AFTRA members proposed a single-demand strategy for the Television Network Code—the creation of pension and welfare plans funded entirely by employer contributions. Rejecting counter demands for cutbacks, AFTRA members held firm and eventually won the industry-first benefit package. The plans have been negotiated into other AFTRA agreements for performers, broadcasters, and recording artists. The Funds were later re-named the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. More than 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists are moving forward together through AFTRA to protect and improve our jobs, lives, and communities. AFTRA members embrace change in society—from new culture to new technology—and incorporate change in our work and craft. AFTRA celebrates and thrives on the diversity of our members and the work we do. AFTRA opens a whole new world of opportunities for success for professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, journalists, dancers, singers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet, and other digital media. Visit AFTRA at www.aftra.com.