AFTRA NATIONAL BOARD AFFIRMS
COMMITMENT TO ORGANIZING
THE 21ST CENTURY
• National Headquarters to Relocate to Los Angeles
• Randall Himes Appointed Assistant National Executive Director
of Sound Recordings
• Union Endorses AFL-CIO Industry Coordinating Committee
Los Angeles/New York, November 6, 2005 – The National Board of Directors of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) meeting in videoconference plenary session this weekend in Los Angeles and New York approved establishing Los Angeles as the site of the union's national headquarters. Some departments, such as News/Broadcast, will remain in New York. The transition to Los Angeles will begin following the conclusion of Sound Recordings and Commercials contracts negotiations in 2006. “The Board’s decision to establish its National headquarters in Los Angeles, while maintaining a strong national presence in New York, Washington, and Nashville, is a bold statement that reaffirms AFTRA’s commitment to organizing and protecting the interests of actors, broadcasters, and recording artists working in the rapidly evolving areas of entertainment, media, and sound recordings in the 21st century,” said AFTRA National President John P. Connolly. “This strategic reorganization of AFTRA staff and resources stands as a dramatic confirmation that our union, like our talent, is not limited by zip code. AFTRA is a national union committed to organizing across our vast jurisdiction in every corner of country.”
Randall Himes Appointed Assistant National Executive Director of Sound Recordings
National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth announced several major staffing appointments as part of AFTRA’s restructuring process to increase organizing efforts in its various areas of jurisdiction.
The union is reorganizing its Sound Recordings Department to better position itself for outreach and service to sound recording artists in the 21st century. Randall Himes, Executive Director of AFTRA’s Nashville Local, has been appointed Assistant National Executive Director of Sound Recordings. Himes will focus on organizing, outreach to sound recording artists, oversight of contract administration, strategies for protecting performers’ rights in the face of new technology, and servicing the needs of recording artists across all AFTRA’s Locals. Himes started his career with AFTRA in 1978 negotiating radio and television station contracts and working on freelance issues in markets such as New Orleans, Kansas City, Louisville, Atlanta, Orlando, and upstate New York, and became Executive Director of the Nashville Local in 1986. He has served on the bargaining committees in negotiations for AFTRA’s Sound Recordings Code, and led organizing campaigns at Disney Orlando, the Grand Ole Opry, and TNN Cable Network. Himes will be based in Nashville, and will continue to serve as Nashville’s Executive Director as he assumes new duties as the union’s Assistant National Executive Director. Himes’ first priority will be preparing the union for upcoming negotiations of the Sound Recordings Code, which expires in June 2006.
AFTRA National Representative Stefanie Taub has been appointed National Manager of Sound Recordings/West Coast, and will oversee a new National department based in Los Angeles that will report to Himes.
AFTRA has promoted National Director of News/Broadcast Tom Carpenter to the post of General Counsel/Director of Legislative Affairs. Carpenter was an attorney for the Teamsters Local 705 in Chicago before joining AFTRA’s staff as National Representative in 1999. As Director of News/Broadcast, Carpenter oversaw collective bargaining in news and station staff areas, as well as public policy issues affecting media consolidation, indecency, and journalists’ first amendment rights. The union is in the process of filling Carpenter’s previous post.
Terrie Bjorklund has been appointed Associate General Counsel/Copyright and Intellectual Property. Bjorklund will be based in Washington, DC, and will be primarily responsible for AFTRA’s domestic and international legislative and public policy work in sound recordings and copyright-related matters. Prior to joining AFTRA’s Washington/Baltimore Local staff in 2002, Bjorklund worked in private practice representing recording artists, producers, and independent record labels in licensing, publishing, recording, and copyright infringement issues, and in the 1980s, she represented unions and union members in labor, EEO, and immigration law.
Lori Rassas has been named Assistant Counsel for the union, and will be based in the AFTRA’s New York office. Rassas joined the union’s staff as National Representative in 2001.
“With AFTRA’s increased emphasis on organizing, and the legal issues that arise during the course of organizing campaigns, enhancing our legal resources is critical,” said Hedgpeth.
AFTRA’s Assistant National Executive Director of Commercials, Non-Broadcast, and Interactive Media, Mathis L. Dunn, Jr., is serving as Interim Executive Director of the Los Angeles Local pending appointment of a permanent Executive Director for AFTRA’s Los Angeles Local to replace former Executive John Russum. Dunn serves as chief negotiator for the union's national Commercials contracts, Interactive Media Agreement, and its Non-Broadcast/Industrial contract.
AFTRA is also adding new positions to support its organizing efforts, and expects to announce new Directors in the areas of Communications and Organizing before the end of the year.
Union Endorses AFL-CIO Industry Coordinating Committee
The Board approved AFTRA’s participation in the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Coordinating Committee (ICC) announced in October. "AFTRA is proud to be playing a leading role in the formation of the first Industry Coordinating Committee in the AFL-CIO,” stated President Connolly. “The unions who make up the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industries (AEMI) Committee of the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees have long experience working together in public policy and collective bargaining. Anyone who understands how artists' and workers' power is built knows that unity is our greatest weapon in the fight for justice.”
The Board received a report on financial results for the first quarter of the fiscal year 2005/2006, as compared to the first quarter of fiscal year 2004/2005, which shows improved performance in revenues as compared to the prior year.
Members were also updated on the “Members Only” section of AFTRA’s website, which debuted in August, union members have made approximately $365,000 in online dues payments and are using the site to update contact information and make charitable contributions to the AFTRA Foundation.
Board members received a report on the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds, which is showing positive results for both plans. However, absent a national governmental solution to runaway inflation in health care that is affecting all health plans throughout the U.S., members were cautioned that additional changes to the Health Plan are planned for 2007.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists – affiliated with the AFL-CIO – is a diverse national union representing over 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists in 32 Locals throughout the country. AFTRA members work as actors, broadcast journalists, dancers, singers, announcers, hosts, comedians, and disc jockeys in all aspects of the media industries including television and radio, sound recordings, commercials, non-broadcast/industrials, interactive games, and the Internet. For more information, visit AFTRA online at www.aftra.com.
Christopher de Haan