AFTRA to Bargain Alongside SAG for TV Deal

Labor org’s national board approves subcommittee recommendation to combine negotiations next fall with studios

Last Updated: March 1, 2010 @ 12:42 PM

The American Federatrion of Television and Radio Artists will proceed with joint bargaining alongside the Screen Actors Guild for a new primetime TV deal with the studios next fall.

On Saturday, AFTRA’s national board unanimously approved a recommendation from a sub-committee that the labor org begin joint bargaining with SAG, when the latter guild kicks off negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers for a new primetime TV collective bargaining agreement on Oct. 1.
Primetime deals for both SAG and AFTRA expire on June 30, 2011.
Under recently elected president Ken Howard, SAG has been pushing of late for joint bargaining with AFTRA. With SAG acrimoniously divided with AFTRA during its last round of studio negotiations, Howard and his fellow guild moderates feel going it alone significantly weakened their bargaining position.
Joint bargaining for a new prime-time deal is believed to be the first step toward what could ultimately be another attempt to merge the two talent unions. And for its part, AFTER seems willing to once again go down that road.
However, AFTRA’s announcement Saturday did not address one logistical hiccup: the labor org is also scheduled to negotiate this fall a new “Networks Code” deal — the one that covers newscasters, daytime stars and pretty much everyone else on TV who’s not a primetime sitcom or drama actor. It’s still unclear at this point as to how AFTRA will handle this scheduling issue.
“I applaud the national board for taking this important step forward today following our productive discussions with our counterparts at the Screen Actors Guild earlier this week, specifically with respect to AFTRA’s heavy negotiating schedule,” said AFTRA national president Roberta Reardon. “I look forward to continuing our work with SAG president Ken Howard and the leadership and members of our sister union as we move forward to bargain the strongest possible contracts for professional talent.”
Here’s AFTRA’s complete release:


AFTRA National Board Approves Joint Bargaining with SAG on Primetime Television

Posted February 27, 2010
5:25 PM PST

Ratifies New National Public Television Agreement

LOS ANGELES AND NEW YORK (Feb. 27, 2010) — The National Board of Directors of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), a national union of more than more 70,000 performers, journalists, broadcasters, recording artists and other talent working in the entertainment and news media, met today by videoconference plenary in Los Angeles and New York.

The AFTRA National Board unanimously voted to approve a recommendation by a subcommittee of the AFTRA Strategy Cabinet to formally engage in joint bargaining under Phase One terms with Screen Actors Guild (SAG) for the AFTRA Primetime Television Contract (Exhibit A of the Network Television Code) and the SAG Television and Theatrical Agreement and under the existing AFL-CIO-facilitated No Raiding/Non-Disparagement Agreement between the two unions. No wages and working conditions meetings or negotiations are scheduled at this time.

The approved motion reads:

“The AFTRA National Board approves conducting the preparation for, negotiation and administration of the 2011 AFTRA Exhibit A Agreement and SAG TV/Theatrical Agreement jointly with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) under the terms of the Phase One Agreement, as Phase One has been applied in the past, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the AFL-CIO-facilitated Agreement for Negotiation of Commercials Contracts Under the Phase One Agreement (“The Commercials Agreement”). Staff is directed to prepare and execute an agreement that is identical to the Commercials Agreement to cover negotiations of the Exhibit A Agreement and SAG TV/Theatrical Agreement and forward same to SAG for its signature as soon as practicable (with the understanding that the escrow currently held by Amalgamated Bank will be utilized in connection with the EXHIBIT A/TV Theatrical Negotiations Agreement).”

After the vote, AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon said, “I applaud the National Board for taking this important step forward today following our productive discussions with our counterparts at Screen Actors Guild earlier this week, specifically with respect to AFTRA’s heavy negotiating schedule for 2010. I look forward to continuing our work with SAG President Ken Howard and the leadership and members of our sister union as we move forward to bargain the strongest possible contracts for professional talent.”

The National Board also unanimously ratified a successor agreement to the 2002 Extension to the National AFTRA Public Television Agreement. The new three-year contract, effective March 1, 2010, to Feb. 28, 2013, includes increases in minimum compensation and employer contributions to the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds, as well as jurisdiction over programs made for or reused in new media.

In her staff report the National Board, AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth reported on the union’s advocacy to combat Internet theft of intellectual property and copyrighted material including AFTRA members’ performances. Last August, the AFTRA Convention unanimously approved a resolution supporting broadband access for all Americans and calling on the federal government and its agencies to ensure that the nation’s regulatory policies regarding Internet broadband expansion include provisions that effectively protect against copyright theft.

Hedgpeth also reported that, for the period of May 1, 2009, to Oct. 31, 2009, the union has collected more than $6.6 million in claims, grievances, arbitrations, legal proceedings and negotiated settlements on behalf of AFTRA members.

In other action today, the National Board made appointments to the Sound Recordings Code Steering Committee and the Network Code “Front-of-the-Book” Steering Committee. In the coming month, each committee will discuss preparations and a timeline for negotiations of the Sound Recordings Code, set to expire on June 30, and the AFTRA Network Code which will expire on Nov. 15. In further action, the Board authorized the AFTRA Administrative Committee to update these committees as needed depending upon the calendar and needs for negotiations of both contracts.

Additionally, the National Board made appointments to the Broadcast Steering Committee, and the Financial Core and Actors’ Equity Association Relations Subcommittees of the AFTRA National Organizing Committee. The Board also received reports from the Strategy Cabinet and the Finance, Women’s, Broadcast Steering, Young AFTRAns and Equal Employment Opportunities Committees.

The Board also received a report on the successful outcome of the 2010 AFTRA Media and Entertainment Awards held in New York on February 22nd, the proceeds of which benefit the work of the AFTRA Foundation, a charitable and education organization funded through tax-deductible contributions, grants and bequests to support projects outside the scope of normal AFTRA activities.  New York Board members Lainie Cooke, who also serves as the union’s National Recording Secretary, and Ed Fry were elected by acclamation to the AFTRA Foundation Board of Directors.

AFTRA National Vice President Shelby Scott, who serves as Union Chair of the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds Board of Trustees, reported that the Trustees met at the beginning of February and determined that AFTRA H&R Funds are healthy, with the Retirement Fund more than 89% funded –well within the federal government’s “green zone” – and that the AFTRA Health Fund has more than a year’s reserve.

The National Board opened its meeting by expressing sympathy and concern for the citizens of Chile who suffered a massive 8.8 earthquake last night. President Reardon convened the meeting in remembrance of AFTRA members who passed away since Board last met in October, including recording artist Teddy Pendergrass, actor James Mitchell and former National Board members Jim Huston, Frances Reid, Conard Fowkes, among others.

The National Board is next scheduled to meet in face-to-face plenary session in New York in June 2010.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, journalists, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audiobooks, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet, and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives, and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society. Visit AFTRA online at