AFTRA receives direct charter from AFL-CIO
Remarks by
AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon
And AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney
February 2, 2008

AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon:

I am proud and pleased to share with you some wonderful news. Last July your union embarked on an historic journey when elected delegates to the AFTRA National Convention voted by a 10-to-one margin to seek direct affiliation with the AFL-CIO, a move that would make AFTRA a full partner of the nation’s largest labor federation.

Today I can report to you that this journey has come to a successful conclusion.

My fellow officers, brothers and sisters on the National Board, AFTRA members, staff and guests, to make the official announcement, may I present AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney…

AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney:

Hi. I am John Sweeney and I am pleased to announce that yesterday, February 1, 2008, after months of talks and negotiations, the AFL-CIO issued a direct charter to the American Federation of Television Radio Artists.

Congratulations are in order for all of you who worked so hard to make this happen. And I can’t say enough about the patience and leadership of Roberta Reardon and Kim Roberts and all the officers and members and staff of AFTRA.

And a special hello to my friend, Bob Edwards. I only wish you guys were here to give me some coaching when I have to go on the air.

This is a big step forward for all professionals who entertain and inform America and I think it will make your union a stronger advocate for you in your workplaces and in your growing and changing industry.

I think congratulations are due to all our AFL-CIO executive council and our entire federation because we too are strengthened.

We have been together in our federation for more than 70 years. But now we’re closer than ever. And I think the new direct affiliation will help us both. It means a stronger voice for the AFL-CIO in our communities, in our government, and in the global market place. And it means more power, tools, and resources for AFTRA in dealing with the digital age and in a diversified industry that now includes not only radio and television, but cable and pay TV, the Internet, interactive media, satellite media, and so many new formats and business models.

Your employers are now bigger and tougher and more consolidated than ever and we look forward to working with you as you look them in the eye and demand and get the compensation, benefits, and working conditions you deserve.

So again congratulations. And congratulations also to the three great union members you honored last week at the 2008 AFTRA Media and Entertainment Excellence awards.

Sam Donaldson has been such a redeeming part of our lives for so many years and I’ll always know him as the man who never backed off from any United States President he covered.

Susan Lucci may be the woman you love to hate when she’s in character on “All My Childern” but she’s a union activist you love and respect for her contributions to her craft and her union.

And Maureen McGovern is simply the other Maureen in my life. The first being my wife, Maureen, but the other a close second as the embodiment of the beauty, skills and voice that come only with a good Irish upbringing and not too much oatmeal.

Thank you, good night, and good luck. Congratulations again. I look forward to seeing you all soon.

AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon:

This is truly a historic moment for our union.

I want to thank President Sweeney and the AFL-CIO Executive Council for their thoughtful consideration of our request.

By placing us on an equal footing with other AFL-CIO unions, our direct charter will make it easier for us to work with unions like the Communications Workers of America, IATSE, and the American Federation of Musicians with whom we share employers and interests in the entertainment and media industries.

It also means we can now count on the full support and assistance of the AFL-CIO as we move forward to win strong agreements for the Network TV Code, Primetime Exhibit A, and other contracts.

For all the challenges that face us, these are exciting times for AFTRA members, filled with amazing opportunities for growth and new jobs. As our industry evolves in this new digital era, so does our union. Our new charter from the AFL-CIO is an unmistakable reflection of our progress. We should be proud of what it signifies about us as we move forward together.