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American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

Spring 2009

The AMEES Special Issue

Dear Vin,

Congratulations on receiving the AMEE Award in Broadcasting. Sam Raimi and the Cast and Crew of For Love of the Game

Vo l u m e 4 1 N u m b e r 1

Features AMEE Awards Gala 13 Raises Thousands for AFTRA Foundation Jeanne Cooper, Smokey Robinson, Vin Scully, and the late Don LaFontaine were honored March 9 in Los Angeles with AFTRA Media and Entertainment Excellence Awards.

Communications Survey


We asked. You answered. Check out the results of our 2008 Communications Survey and see how we are improving AFTRA as the voice of professional performers.

AFTRA in Action


The Employee Free Choice Act and the Performance Rights Act are two critical pieces of legislation AFTRA members are urging Congress to pass. Find out about these important bills and how you can take action to show your support. AFTRA on the Hill: AFTRA member Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins (left), and Paul Almeida (right), of the Department of Professional Employees, testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee about the importance of passing the Performance Rights Act. Photo: John Harrington

On the Cover American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

Spring 2009

AMEE Awards

The AMEES Special Issue

AFTRA Cover Spr09.indd 1

The widow of Don LaFontaine, Nita WhitakerLaFontaine, Jeanne Cooper, Smokey Robinson, and Vin Scully were feted at the 2009 AMEE Awards. Photos: Michael Buckner, Getty Images.

4/14/09 2:21:25 PM

Departments From the President




We Remember


Dateline AFTRA


Members Only


Beck Report


AFTRA Touring Agreement


AFTRA Locals


At the Table


News and Broadcast 11

AFTRA NATIONAL OFFICERS President Roberta Reardon

First Vice President Bob Edwards

Second Vice President Ron Morgan

Vice Presidents Catherine Brown, Bob Butler, Denny Delk, Jim Ferguson, Holter Graham, Dick Kay, Shelby Scott

Treasurer Matthew Kimbrough

Recording Secretary Lainie Cooke

NATIONAL STAFF National Executive Director Kim A. Roberts Hedgpeth

Assistant National Executive Directors Mathis L. Dunn, Jr., Commercials, Non-Broadcast, & Interactive Media Randall Himes, Sound Recordings Joan Halpern Weise, Entertainment Programming

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National Directors

AFTRA Magazine


Falling behind financially? Union SAFE may be able to help.

Ray Bradford, Equal Employment Opportunities Megan Capuano, Agent Relations Tom Carpenter, General Counsel/Director of Legislative Affairs Christopher de Haan, Communications Philip Denniston, Organizing John Eilhardt, Finance Debra Osofsky, News & Broadcast Anthony Papandrea, Technical Systems Andy Schefman, Research & Contract Administration Natasha D. Shields, Information Technology Terry Walker, Administration

EDITORIAL BOARD John Henning, National Chair

ADVERTISING POLICY COMMITTEE John Henning, National Chair Joe Krebs, Nancy Sellers, Ann Walker, Sally Winters


AFTRA National Communications Department Christopher de Haan, Director Leslie Simmons, Manager Rachel Rifat, Art & Media Design Manager Marina Martinez, Communications Assistant Dick Moore, Consultant

PRINT PRODUCTION IngleDodd Publishing 310.207.4410 or

To find out how Union SAFE may be able to help, visit:


ADVERTISING Dan Dodd, Advertising Director 310.207.4410 ext. 236 or AFTRA Magazine Vol. 41, No. 1 (ISSN 00-0047676) is published quarterly as the official magazine of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, 5757 Wilshire Blvd., 9th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90036. 323.634.8100 © 2009 American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Printed in the U.S.A.

From the President Organizing in the 21st Century: Boldness to Begin

But what is organizing? When it comes right down to it, organizing is everything union members do through their union. Last year, we successfully bargained, ratified, or extended eight major national agreements, with increases, that cover the spectrum of the entertainment and media industries. Our work now is to administer those agreements and expand work opportunities under those contracts for AFTRA members nationwide. We’ve printed and provided AFTRA members across the country with two guides to the AFTRA Television Contract— Member Guide to the AFTRA Television Contract and Background Actor Guide to the AFTRA Television Contract— both available in the Members Only section of That is organizing. AFTRA members have been hard at work in campaigns comprised of a broad spectrum of organizations representing artists and performers, labor allies, community activists, and social advocates to help pass these bills. That is organizing. In January, AFTRA signed an agreement with, the largest digital download company in the country, to cover audiobooks made only for downloads. The meetings with Audible were great and upbeat and the company was really excited to work with AFTRA. It made all of us proud to know that one of the reasons Audible has been so encouraged to work with AFTRA is because of the professional way our members conduct business. That is organizing. As I write this, The Wall Street Journal has just published an article titled, “Local TV Is the New Weapon,” detailing how “hyperlocal” content is becoming increasingly important in our global economy. More and more, employers and consumers are turning to local news outlets and channels to get information and share their message. This represents a tremendous opportunity for AFTRA members who work in local broadcast markets from

On pages 19-21 of this issue of AFTRA Magazine, you’ll find the results of the AFTRA Communications Survey we conducted by e-mail last fall. We wanted to learn more about the best way to provide you with important information, what activities you feel are important, and gauge your knowledge and understanding about activities in your local areas. That is organizing. On March 21, I reported to the AFTRA National Board of Directors that “in a season of bad news, where even the entertainment and media industries are feeling the devastating impact of falling stock prices, wage compression, and high unemployment, AFTRA members have much reason for hope.” Attending the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting in Miami on March 2-4 with AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, I witnessed those reasons for hope. Notably, I am encouraged by the appointment of Hilda Solis as our new Secretary of Labor. She has a long history with the labor movement and I have every confidence that she will truly be a secretary of labor, not a secretary of industry. I applaud the leadership and support of AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. President Sweeney and the AFL-CIO have been true friends to AFTRA over the years and recently especially. From joining with the AFL-CIO to advance our shared economic and legislative priorities to working with our brothers and sisters at Screen Actors Guild on our joint commercials contracts negotiations, AFTRA members are working hard to build relationships and strengthen our alliances. That is organizing. As we look ahead to the AFTRA National Convention in Chicago on August 6-8, there is much more work to be done. As corporations grow and salaries decline, union members must stand together and demonstrate a unity of vision and depth of solidarity such as the American labor movement has not seen in our long history. That is organizing. In his remarks to the union delegates at the AFL-CIO Executive Council in Miami, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden summed up the bold opportunity organized union members have to make a difference in our country saying: “We got a shot here, folks. We got a shot like we haven’t had for the last 30 years. And shame on us, shame on us if we squander it. I don’t think we will. With your help, I’m absolutely convinced that over the next couple years we will make a better, brighter, and stronger America. And you’ll be the reason.” As Goethe said, “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” I invite you to join us as we begin it. In solidarity,

Roberta Reardon AFTRA National President

Spring 2009

In January, the AFTRA Strategy Cabinet convened in New York City. This committee—as you might guess from its name—is a high-level group of members and staff leaders from Locals around the country. We met to discuss the challenges and priorities facing AFTRA members in the coming year—no small task in the current economic crisis. The AFTRA Strategy Cabinet determined that our highest priority is organizing. AFTRA members must continue to work together to lead the way in 2009, just as we did in 2008 and throughout our history, and that means organizing.

New York to Kansas City to Boston and San Francisco. That is organizing.

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On the wall in my office in AFTRA New York hangs a quote by Goethe about the importance of being committed to action. It’s an inspiring statement that ends: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” With just four months into 2009, this issue of AFTRA Magazine is full of stories about AFTRA members hard at work already.

Spring 2009

Dateline AFTRA

AFTRA Magazine


2009 AFTRA National Convention: Destination Chicago

Performers Say “Si” to OYEME USA 2009

The Chicago Local is working hard and plans are coming into place for the 2009 AFTRA National Convention, August 6-8, in Chicago. This biennial gathering of elected member delegates from AFTRA Locals across the country is the highest governing body of AFTRA. The Convention Social is scheduled for the evening of August 6, after opening day of the Convention, at the Adler Planetarium, located on a point on Lake

More than 100 voiceover performers turned out in Miami on February 28 for OYEME USA 2009—the first voiceover conference of its kind for the Hispanic market in the United States. Marketing consultant Jack Hardy of Bootstrap Marketing runs a workshop teaching participants how best to market themselves as voiceover artists.

The daylong Spanishlanguage conference was packed with an international mix of Hispanic talent who turned out for the most up-to-date information on voiceover work for talent in the Spanish-language market.

The Adler Planetarium will be the site for this year’s Convention Social. Photo credit: Adler Planetarium

Michigan with spectacular views of Chicago’s harbor, lakefront, and skyline. As an added bonus, there will be a full moon, which will make for a lovely evening. Other social plans include a cocktail hour with live music, a sit-down dinner, and dancing afterward with one of Chicago’s hottest bands, plus many other surprises for the delegates. Also scheduled for unveiling at the Convention will be a new, redesigned AFTRA website. The National Communications Department is planning a workshop to demonstrate the new site to delegates and will have a booth at the Convention that will allow attendees some hands-on interaction. As plans get set, look for the 2009 AFTRA National Convention page coming soon on

OYEME USA was presented by ALAS (Association of Latino Artists of South Florida) in association with AFTRA and sponsored by Falcon Paymasters, Team Services, and Checks in Motion.

Memo Sauceda, AFTRA Miami President and President of ALAS, and CC Limardo, President of OYEME USA, hosted the energized conference, which included industry professionals and new union and non-union talent interacting in sessions designed to “make it” in the competitive business of voiceovers. The conference was an opportunity for AFTRA members to organize and demonstrate the value of union membership to non-union performers. Topics addressed at the conference included new marketing methods; what voiceover producers are looking for; how voices are selected; new technology; voice techniques, diction, demos, home studios, and virtual agents; and the importance of being an AFTRA member. The conference concluded with microphone time for each participant and multiple raffles of valuable items

related to voiceover work. “I walked away with more knowledge, new friends, business contacts, and fun memories,” said one participant, Azury Florio, a newcomer to the business. Panelists and presenters included Rudy Leschhorn, executive producer, Accent Marketing; Alejandro Barrera, creative director; Aidita Urra-Alamo, president, Bohemian Sound; Gisselle Ospina, talent agent, The Green Agency; George Ortiz, casting director, Miami Talento Casting; Anna Silvetti, actor/voiceover talent; Ricardo Tinoco, audio engineer, Uptempo; Jack Hardy, marketing consultant, Bootstrap Marketing; Gary Travers, executive producer, VoiceOver Miami; Herta Suarez, South East Regional Director-AFTRA; ALAS’ Limardo, who is a host/voiceover talent; and AFTRA’s Sauceda, who is an actor/ voiceover talent.

Chicago Radio Players Tune In The AFTRA/SAG Radio Players— comprised of professional stage, screen, and voice actors—were recently featured in the local Chicago labor Federation News about their performances of radio shows from the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Formed in 1997, the players donate their time to perform free-of-charge at

these issues is your support. We must keep our industry not just competitive, but a global leader.”

The group sees the performances as a way to sharpen their skills in-between jobs. They also invite agents and producers to attend the shows—though the main audience is the public who fill the 300-seat theater. “A lot of people are reminiscing about their childhoods, having listened to these shows on radio when they were kids,” Dan Frick, past president of the AFTRA Chicago Local, told Federation News. “To have the live sound effects people making the footsteps and gunshots and all those things that happened during the course of the radio show to make it come alive, many people listen to the show with their eyes closed to feel what it was like.” Frick is also a member of the group’s steering committee. Upcoming performances include Laura on May 19 and The Whistler: Fox & Mr. Sycamore on July 16.

AFTRA Leaders Head to DC for PreInaugural Festivities AFTRA leaders joined their counterparts from Actors’ Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Musicians, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, and the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, in hosting an invitation-only, pre-inauguration reception of elected officials and arts policy leaders in

L-R: AFTRA Associate General Counsel in DC Terrie Bjorklund; AFTRA NY Local member James Lurie; AFTRA National Representative Purvi Patel; AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth; AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon; AFTRA NY Local member Lainie Cooke; AFTRA NY President and National Vice President Holter Graham; AFTRA NY Local member Ed Fry; and AFTRA San Francisco Local member and National Vice President Bob Butler.

Washington, DC, on Martin Luther King Day, January 19. The event was attended by nearly 300 members of the House of Representatives and Senate, New York City officials, arts advocacy groups, government staffers, representatives from the Obama Arts Committee, the AFL-CIO, the New York State AFL-CIO, and elected union leaders from New York and Los Angeles. It provided an opportunity for participants to engage in a discussion about the importance of the arts and media to the country and the economy. President Roberta Reardon was among those who spoke at the gathering. Reardon told the crowd, “American media is the second largest export in the U.S. behind the defense industry. An industry as diverse, dynamic, and profitable as we are, we inevitably have issues that lead us to Washington. Some issues like media consolidation and health care reform affect all of us. Some like the Federal Reporter Shield Law, Performance Rights for Recording Artists, and Qualified Performing Artist tax legislation, affect discrete portions of our members. What is critical for ALL

AFTRA’s representatives from National and AFTRA New York who joined President Reardon included Holter Graham, Ed Fry, Lainie Cooke, James Lurie, and San Francisco’s Bob Butler. They discussed with lawmakers and staffers the importance of a number of pressing issues, including the Performance Rights Act, health care reform, New York State Film and Television tax credits, affordable housing issues in Manhattan, and the Employee Free Choice Act. “AFTRA was lucky enough to be in DC during that powerful, exciting time,” said Graham, who is New York Local President and National Vice President. “The anticipation of a change for the better was everywhere, and members of this country’s highest bodies of government were very open and interested in hearing the concerns we brought to their attention. It was a great night.” AFTRA First Vice President Bob Edwards served as master of ceremonies.

Singers Step Into the Spotlight The Los Angeles Local Singers Committee recently hosted 90 of its own on March 3 for the first in an ongoing program series dubbed “Spotlight on Singers.” The purpose of the program is to equip, encourage, and connect singers with their unique community. The evening’s topic was “How to Make a Demo” and began with a smashing showcase by Sixth Wave, a six-member a cappella vocal group, followed by a panel discussion moderated by AFTRA Los Angeles Local

Spring 2009

Their performances, which include old-time hits like X Minus One: Chain of Command, My Friend Irma, and The Lady Eve, often feature 25-plus casts of actors, along with directors, producers, and sound effects engineers.

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the Chicago Culture Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theatre, giving the audience a taste of the past and a glimpse at what took place in the studio when the original broadcasts were recorded.

Dateline AFTRA

Ivey regaled them with her early New York stories, when our union was still AFRA, where she worked extensively on radio soap operas, many of which were live, such as The Guiding Light, Whispering Streets, and Our Gal Sunday. “My favorite kind of work,” she said.

Spring 2009

L-R: Moderator Randy Crenshaw, David Joyce, Bob Wackerman, Cristy Crowl, Scott Wojahn, and Luana Waimey.

AFTRA Magazine


member Randy Crenshaw. Panelists included industry veterans Scott Wojahn (Wojahn Bros. Music); Luana Waimey (vocal contractor for film and television); producer Bob Wackerman (Audio by the Bay Entertainment Group); Cristy Crowl (composer/producer/music director/session singer/co-founder of, and David Joyce (singer/producer/writer/ keyboardist). The next “Spotlight on Singers” is set for June 9, 2009, focusing on “How to Get Into the Business.”

AFTRA Atlanta Members Interviewed for Student Doc Students from Georgia Southern University (GSU) in Statesboro, GA, working on a documentary about the Golden Age of radio, recently interviewed veterans of that era as well as advocates and aficionados of oldtime radio, including local treasure and AFTRA member Edith Ivey. “They were extremely focused and had done their homework,” Ivey said. “It was a great pleasure working with them. If they are representative of the future of young people in this business, then I have great hope for our industry.”

Additionally, Ivey was also seen on TV as every young boy’s heartthrob, the lovely “Indian” Princess Summerfall Winterspring on The Howdy Doody Show. The currently untitled project helps kick off an 11-year celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of radio at this year’s annual Broadcast Education Association Convention in April. It’s an attempt to chronicle the ongoing history of radio theater as seen through the eyes of those who created it, keep it alive today, and those who have studied it historically—as well as the audience who so fondly listened. GSU professor Dr. Melanie Stone brought on communication arts majors Jonathan Pope and James Kicklighter to direct, edit, and produce the project. The two have traveled the country, conducting extensive interviews with the individuals who were so willing to share their amazing stories. Barry Stoltze, AFTRA Atlanta Local President and co-producer of the annual Lend Me an Ear!, was also interviewed. “The art of radio acting is slowly dying off, but thankfully is kept alive in America through such venues as A Prairie Home Companion and, to some extent, audiobooks,” he said. “It would be a terrible shame not to preserve the art form and radio’s rich history. We’ve already lost the skill of silent-picture acting. I’m pleased to see a collegiate interest in

archiving radio’s past, especially before all the remaining participants are gone, and at worst, forgotten.” If you have an interest in sharing your recollections and thoughts of old-time radio, they are still eagerly accepting all comers. Contact the Atlanta office for more information.

AFTRA Leaders Attend AFL-CIO Meeting Featuring U.S. VP Biden

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon

President Roberta Reardon and National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth traveled to Miami, March 2-4, for the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting where they met with government officials, including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and other leaders in the American labor movement. Among the topics discussed were the issues and concerns facing all Americans as they struggle to make ends meet and support their families in this difficult economy. Attendees also discussed the importance of mobilizing union members across the country to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (More on the Act can be found on page 23), and strategies for even greater cooperation between all unions in the American labor movement on common goals.

He also quoted U.S. President Barack Obama as saying, “I don’t buy the argument that providing workers with collective bargaining rights somehow weakens the economy or worsens the business environment.” Biden then added, “If you’ve got workers who have a decent pay and benefits, they also are customers for your business. I have a simple, basic belief, one that we’re going to work hard to put into action: If a union is what you want, a union you’re entitled to have.” The meeting was held in the newly renovated Fontainebleau Hotel, where the AFL-CIO had used its leverage to convince the hotel’s management to use union construction workers for its renovations. You can view the full text of Biden’s speech at /bidenspeech.html.

NARM Connects Music Biz with Artists The National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) and the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) is offering a day-long “Music Business Crash Course” on June 7 in San Diego. The program is part of “NARM Connects,” the group’s annual convention, which connects industry

The course is geared toward a variety of people, including individual artists, music label personnel, entrepreneurs entering the music space, and music business students. It will begin with an industry overview and then cover fundamental industry issues that all music creators and content users at any experience level need to know. Moderated by A2IM President Rich Bengloff, course instructors will include music label owners, distributors/ aggregators, retailers, and social networking/Web executives. Topics include “Seven Ways to Market Music,” “Label War Stories … I Wish I Would Have Known,” and “Publishing: What You Need to Know.” The crash course starts at 8:30 a.m. with a lunch break at noon. It concludes with a welcome reception sponsored by Rhino Entertainment and WEA Corp. from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The cost is $75 for industry professionals, non-NARM members; $25 for A2IM members not registered for the convention and artists. Participants do not need to register for the convention to take part in the crash course. For more information, go to; contact A2IM’s Al Verik at 212.999.6113 ext. 3 or al.verik or NARM’s Holly Rosum at 856.596.2221 or

Simmons Joins Nat’l Communications Office On February 5, Leslie Simmons joined AFTRA as National Manager of Communications. Simmons previously worked as a reporter for The Hollywood Reporter and is based in Los Angeles. As

National Manager of Communications, she manages the daily operations of the National Communications Department, including coordinating with AFTRA Locals and National Departments on their communications needs and serves as managing editor of AFTRA’s Web site, and its redesign, and magazine. She reports to Christopher de Haan, AFTRA National Director of Communications. “We’re pleased that Leslie is joining the AFTRA staff at such an important time in the industry,” said Christopher de Haan. “Leslie’s AFTRA National Manager of extensive Communications coverage Leslie Simmons of legal and labor issues in the entertainment and media industries gives her an in-depth understanding of the issues confronting working performers. Her expertise in journalism will make an excellent addition to our team as we work to coordinate the goals and message of AFTRA industry-wide and among our many Locals across the country.” For the last 14 years, Leslie has worked as a journalist for various wire, print, and online publications throughout Los Angeles, including City News Service,, and the Daily Journal. Most recently, Leslie was film, labor and legal reporter for The Hollywood Reporter, where she extensively covered the entertainment industry’s labor relations, tracked film projects, and reported on various industry-related legal matters. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY, and is currently working toward a master’s degree in communication and leadership from Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA.

Spring 2009

“We’re not asking for anything we don’t deserve,” Biden said of the Employee Free Choice Act. “And we’re not asking for anything that wasn’t intended when the National Labor Relations Board said we should be encouraging unions. We just want to level this playing field again.”

leaders and experts for the purpose of building new partnerships and developing viable, creative solutions to keep the music industry strong.

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Biden addressed the council, expressing his support for the Employee Free Choice Act and stressed that union members are the backbone of the middle class.

At the Table

AFTRA and SAG Reach Tentative Deal with JPC The AFTRA/SAG Joint Negotiating Committee announced April 1 it had reached a unanimous tentative agreement with the Joint Policy Committee of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers on terms for successor agreements

be conducted by a jointly retained consultant engaged by the unions and the industry. The results and possible adoption of the study’s findings will be subject to negotiation by the parties not later than January 3, 2012. The unions successfully protected the critical “Class A” payment structure and continued unchanged the editing provisions in the existing contract. Highlights of the new agreement include:

Spring 2009

Sue-Anne Morrow, Screen Actors Guild Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee (left), and AFTRA President Roberta Reardon celebrate the Commercials Contract tentative agreement with members of the Negotiating Committee in New York City.

AFTRA Magazine


to the AFTRA Television and Radio Commercials Contracts and the SAG Television Commercials Contract, subject to approval by the SAG/AFTRA Joint National Board. The new three-year agreement contains a more than $36 million increase in wage rates and other payments for all categories of performers in the first year of the contracts, approximately $21 million in increased contributions to the SAG Pension and Health Plan and the AFTRA Health and Retirement Fund, the first-ever establishment of a payment structure in commercials for work made for and moved over to the Internet and other new media platforms, important new monitoring provisions, and improvements for choreographers, extras, and Spanish-language performers. The new contracts also contain an agreement in principle outlining terms for a pilot study for the purpose of testing the Gross Rating Points (GRP) model of restructuring compensation to performers as proposed by Booz & Co. The two-year study is scheduled to commence on April 15 and will

• Three-year agreement, term effective April 1, 2009, to March 31, 2012 • A 5.5% overall increase in wages and other compensation over the life of the contracts, including a 4.43% increase, effective April 1, 2009, in Class A, Wild Spot, and basic cable session fees • For product made for the Internet or in new media, 1.3 times the minimum session fee for eight weeks’ use and 3.5 times the minimum session fee for one year’s use • 0.5% increase in the employer contribution rate to the AFTRA H&R and SAG P&H plans, and a 0.2% increase in employer contributions to the AFTRA-Industry Cooperative Fund, bring the total contribution rate to 15.5%. The agreement provides for a cap on P&H and H&R contributions, but the committee successfully negotiated the industry from their initial demand of $250,000 to $1 million per performer, per contract, per year. • Secured five, new covered jobs for commercial extras, up from 40 to 45 • Established new exclusivity provisions for made-for-cable-only commercials • Instituted, for the first time, a contract provision to pay extras a roundtrip mileage fee of $8 • Increased foreign-use payments under the Spanish Language section of the contract

• The across-the-board increase under the AFTRA Radio Commercials Contract is 5.3%, including contributions to AFTRA H&R and the AICF. • All of the unions’ proposals regarding diversity issues were addressed in the negotiations. “The AFTRA and SAG Commercials Contracts provide our members with the solid foundation they need to sustain their careers and families,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon, who was the AFTRA Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee. “In this round of negotiations, during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we successfully improved wages and expanded benefits to keep our members working now and in the future. This is a major victory for our unions—and a victory for organized labor as a whole— and I applaud the Joint Negotiating Committee for their vision, hard work, and solidarity.” Mathis L. Dunn, Jr., AFTRA’s Chief Negotiator and Assistant National Executive Director for Commercials, Non-Broadcast, and Interactive Media, added, “The Joint Negotiating Committee provided us with clear objectives borne out of the nationwide wages and working conditions meetings leading up to the negotiations. Among the priorities, our members asked us to increase minimum compensation and preserve Class A. We achieved those objectives and more, including agreement on a test study that will allow for a meaningful exploration of how best to adapt our contracts to meet the changing needs of all performers working in the shifting landscape of new technology.” Formal negotiations between the 26-member AFTRA/SAG Joint Negotiating Committee and the Industry began on February 23 and concluded on the morning of April 1 in New York City.

Philadelphia’s Employees Vote to Join AFTRA

AFTRA Philadelphia Members Request Federal Mediator

Five AFTRA-represented workers in DC, including a very popular and highly rated 33-year veteran talk-show host, were on the receiving end of a $50,000 arbitration award from Citadel Broadcasting Corp. handed down on February 23.

AFTRA celebrated a digital newsroom victory at in Philadelphia, where two Web producers, two assistant Web producers, and one digital reporter voted in favor of making AFTRA their collective bargaining representative.

Philadelphia was once again in the spotlight in March, when 35 members of the Philadelphia Local of AFTRA requested a federal mediator permanently be assigned in their contract negotiations with Metro Networks, managed by nationwide broadcast syndication giant Westwood One. Working for Philadelphia Shadow Traffic, Metro’s AFTRA-covered announcers and producers provide important traffic and information content to several local radio and television stations.

An arbitrator ruled Citadel violated AFTRA’s collective bargaining agreement covering workers on three DC-area radio stations regarding severance payment calculations related to layoffs and personal services contracts (PSCs) and ordered the company to pay full severance pay to all affected employees. The victory awards AFTRA members by company layoffs with significant back pay, totaling more than $50,000. The decision also protects other and future AFTRA-covered employees against similar contractual violations. “It is important to all broadcasters that the AFTRA contract superseded an individual personal services agreement,” said National Broadcasting Steering Committee Chairman Joe Krebs, who also serves as President of AFTRA Washington/Baltimore Local, “No company can attempt to erode the AFTRA agreement by playing games with the language in an individual contract. On behalf of all AFTRA broadcasters, we applaud the DC Local members and staff.” Citadel bought a number of radio stations from ABC in 2007, including three in Washington, DC. Less than a year later, the company “restructured” the business, laid off a number of workers, and changed the format of the station. The layoffs included the five AFTRA-represented workers. When the company calculated severance, it relied upon a company-fabricated formula instead of the severance pay calculation required under the AFTRA contract.

The new members join approximately 70 existing on- and off-air AFTRA-covered news staff at KYW-TV CBS3, many of whom took the time to talk with the five employees and tell them the benefits of joining AFTRA. These Web positions are now part of the AFTRA bargaining unit—and as more positions at come on line, the bargaining unit will grow with it.

The vote underlines the strength of unions— especially AFTRA—even when times are as tough as they are now.

–Neil Rattigan, AFTRA member and CBS3 shop steward

AFTRA contracts cover on-air employees when they work on the Web, but the employees are among the first Web site workers at a local owned-and-operated station to have voted to be covered by an AFTRA contract. Neil Rattigan, CBS3’s shop steward, said of the organizing, “This was no easy decision for them, but the vote underlines the strength of unions— especially AFTRA—even when times are as tough as they are now. Since much of our work is re-purposed for, it’s logical to have Web staffers as part of our union. We share common goals and now we will work together to achieve them.”

“Contract negotiations have reached the point where the company is not offering acceptable contract terms and we need a third party to sit down and focus on solutions,” said Catherine Brown, AFTRA Philadelphia Local President. “We understand these are difficult economic times but the issues that are keeping us apart aren’t simply financial. We believe the company is using the current economic climate to bust our union and threaten AFTRA members to accept terms that would otherwise be unacceptable. We are asking that the federal mediator be assigned until we reach agreement on terms for a first contract.” One of the key issues in the negotiations is the employees’ concerns regarding workload. In September, Westwood One sought to reduce expenditures by slashing the workforce by almost 30%, laying off 13 employees—just as the company’s CEO was gifted a severance package worth more than $2.1 million. The Metro One employees are under a tremendous burden to deliver the same high-quality programming and information but with fewer employees because the company insists that costs need to reduced. Yet outsized company bonuses continue to flow to top-level executives. In June 2008, Philadelphia Metro employees voted by a margin of 2-1 to elect AFTRA as their union and contract negotiations began eight months ago at the end of July.

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DC Members Win Landmark Victory

Spring 2009

News and Broadcast

AMEE AWARDS GALA RAISES THOUSANDS FOR AFTRA FOUNDATION By Leslie Simmons Photos by Michael Buckner, Getty Images We like throwing a party every now and then and on March 9 we did just that, honoring four AFTRA icons at the 2009 AFTRA Media and Entertainment Excellence Awards (AMEES) held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

“A night like tonight is a wonderful way to celebrate the inspiring achievements of AFTRA members like Jeanne, Smokey, Vin, and Don, as well as our sponsors’ overwhelming generosity in spite of such difficult economic times for this nation”, said AFTRA Foundation President Shelby Scott, who also announced the establishment of a Don LaFontaine Memorial Scholarship. “This evening is a shining example of what union brothers and sisters do and we are so blessed to have you all come here to Los Angeles and I thank you,” said AFTRA President Roberta Reardon, who was on hand to welcome the attendees. Cooper, who for the last 35 years has played the grande dame of Genoa City, Katherine Chancellor, on CBS’ The Young and the Restless, received the AMEE Award in Entertainment. She was presented the award by Maria Arena Bell, head writer and co-executive producer for the #1 daytime drama. Arena Bell spoke of Cooper’s dedication to the series and to AFTRA, looking out for the show’s young performers and often hosting AFTRA representative meetings in her “office,” aka her dressing room. Arena Bell said that while Cooper is a star and a grande dame, she’s not a diva.

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The gala dinner event brought in more than 340 guests and raised money for the AFTRA Foundation, a charitable and education organization that helps you, our members. The Foundation is funded through tax-deductible contributions, grants, and bequests to support projects outside the scope of normal AFTRA activities, including charitable events, special conferences, studies, seminars, and other endeavors critical to AFTRA members—such as the International News Safety Institute, the only global organization solely dedicated to the safety of journalists and other news professionals.

Spring 2009

This year’s honorees were Jeanne Cooper of The Young and the Restless, Smokey Robinson, Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, and the late Don LaFontaine. AFTRA National First Vice President Bob Edwards was the master of ceremonies.

“She is one of the most dedicated and hardest working actresses in the business,” she said. “Last year, at 80, she signed another three-year deal with The Young and the Restless. And they say that Hollywood is ageist, but we are leading, not only as a show, but in all the demographics, with an 80 year old as our front-burner story line.” Arena Bell added, “Jeanne leads by example. She is a consummate professional and she’s fired up. She loves it.” In accepting her award, Cooper quipped, “It’s very true I am all the things she said.” AFTRA Foundation President Shelby Scott talked about how the AMEES help fund many of the projects the Foundation provides, including the International News Safety Institute.

two—is I have accomplished being able to make corporate know that I truly like them,” she said. “I understand corporate. They’re trained to do one thing and we’re trained to do another but you can get along, as we have on our show.”

In receiving his AMEE, Robinson said he couldn’t accept the award without thanking the person who helped launch his career, Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, who was at the event to honor his friend.

Robinson, a five-decade member of AFTRA, received the AMEE Award in Sound Recordings. Presenting his award was actor Terrence Howard, who said Robinson was an inspiration to him and many people in the room. Howard scoured the room during dinner and asked attendees what they thought of Smokey, and shared some of the responses during his presentation.

“His dream has made so many other dreams come true and mine being one of them,” Robinson said. “He’s not only my best friend, he’s my mentor, my dad, my brother. So when I’m up here getting an award, I can never receive an award without telling you about him. Because of him I’m standing h here ere ere er and I have ve e a life that I love.”

Among the thoughts: “You would think Am A that being in love was enough and then th Robinson you add Smokey”; “The quintessential yo n also American artist and if you can’t get Am thanked with ‘Ooo Baby Baby,’ you got llucky lu u AFTRA problems”; “His music makes you young again”; “It’s automatic Singer Smokey Robinson (L) accepted his AMEE forgiveness”; and “It’s my Award from actor Terrence Howard (R). Howard spoke of Robinson’s influence among those at life. Romantic.”

Spring 2009

the gala.

AFTRA Magazine


She also talked about how special everyone there at the event was because they all represent AFTRA and she recalled the days of walking the line to get five-day workweeks. “I had tomatoes thrown at me and called names and what have you,” she said. Cooper added, “I never wanted to be a star. I wanted to be an actor. And if that’s what you want to be for a lifetime, you have to have rules and regulations. You have to have leadership. You have to have embodiment of people who are willing to listen and follow and agree on the good things and work through the bad things and with AFTRA we have done that.” Cooper also emphasized the importance of getting along with corporate employers. “One of the most difficult things I have done as an ordinary human being or an actress—there is a division between the

“There was another gentleman who said, ‘I used to smoke to Smokey.’ I don’t think he was alone,” Howard said. “My daddy was right along with him. For me personally, Smokey is responsible probably for me being in this world. Not that he is my father, but I will dare to say my mother fell in love with my daddy because she said he had Smokey’s eyes.”

for protecting him gh im m when he wa wass a young youn yo ung un g performer. perf erf rfor orme or m r

“I appreciate this union very much,” he said. “I grew up in a time when it was precarious getting your money, but this union was there for me every step of the way wa and AFTRA has Y&R Executive Producer and head writer Maria made ma my life possible.

Howard also spoke of the importance of AFTRA and its representation of all artists.

Arena Bell spoke of Jeanne Cooper’s dedication to AFTRA in presenting her with the AMEE Award ar in Entertainme ment ent. nt..

“Smokey, I’m sure, has been a member of AFTRA for more than half his life and it’s his work and others that’s responsible for the security y we feel so we can do the work we do. We know we’re re protected,” Howard said. “It’s not uniformity, it’s unity. y. So please continue to support por ortt AFTRA and other unions like it.”

“I you so much “I thank tth h AFTRA because you AF FT have have been h be such a huge part part of p of my life,” Robinson added. adde ad ded de d “You have given me comfort. I know today co when wh w hen I go and work somewhere I’m covered some sso m me because you’re there. beca be ca All All the A t young acts coming along should com cco m be b informed about who wh you are and what w you y do.”

Scully, “the Voice S of the the AMEE the Dodgers,” Dod D odge gers rs,” ,” received rec Award in Broadcasting. He was presented the award by the “Voice of

“Don loved AFTRA more than anyone could possibly know,” WhitakerLaFontaine said. “As he used to say, ‘My admiration for AFTRA and AFTRA members cannot be overstated.’ “He was always proud to be an AFTRA member and work under AFTRA contracts. This award is a true blessing and I am very honored to accept it on his behalf,” she added. The AMEES recognize members of AFTRA, the people who entertain and inform America, who have made a significant contribution to American culture. The AMEES were created in 2003 to honor AFTRA to his

members memb me mb ber erss fo forr excellence their craft their exce ex ellence ce iin n th thei eirr cr raf aft an and d th thei eirr ei contributions to the fields of media and entertainment. Proceeds from the 2009 AMEE Awards go to benefit the AFTRA Foundation. To learn more about the work of the AFTRA Foundation and to make a charitable donation, please visit

Nita Whi taker-LaF ontaine, w (L) and E ith daught lyse (R), ers Skye said her la LaFontain te husban e, cherishe d, Don d AFTRA and the w ork the union does .

Spring 2009

bute lHoyo paid tri ist George De . Voiceover art n LaFontaine Do r, nto me friend and

15 AFTRA Magazine

The late voiceover artist, Don LaFontaine, who passed away in September 2008, was honored with the AMEE Tribute Award in Voiceover Artistry. Known as the “King of Voiceovers,” the tribute award was presented by another legendary “I’ve been broadcasting Clipper games voiceover artist, George for 30 years DelHoyo, to LaFontaine’s widow, and I think De Dodgers announcer Vin Scully with his AMEE Award. Scully is celebrating his 60th year calling singer Nita Whitaker-LaFontaine. that’s an awful sin si n play-by-play for the team. long time until DelHoyo called LaFontaine I look at Vin De el most who is about “the “th “t he m h mo o articulate guy I’ve ever and to begin his met” me m t” a an n recalled how he was legendary in the industry that 60th year,” sso leg eg was Lawler said. he h ew a just known as “Don,” or sometimes “The Don.” “Think about ssome me 60 years. DelHoyo recalled a day (early When he D De lH his career as a voiceover began in 1950, in h artist) he spent with LaFontaine.. Harry Truman art ar a t Ever the consummate was president. Ev professional, LaFontaine There have been n prr p was 12 presidents w able to record several promos while working on who have served d p a crossword puzzle at the our country while e same Vin has been same e time. tim ime. e e. serving the Dodgers and the millions “I said wow,” DelHoyo recalled. “If you and millions of fans he has turned on to ever get a chance to watch someone major league baseball and the Dodgers. work all day who’s the very best in It’s an extraordinary experience and his the world at something—it could be longevity is unbelievable. anything, a plumber, an electrician, a doctor, a skateboarder—do it. It’s truly “If we weren’t there (at the game), the best thing in the world. we feel we were there because Vin described it for us. “Well, I didn’t know the Thank you, sir,” Lawler awle aw lerr le “W best plumber or doctor but added. b I knew the best voiceover k guy,” he added. “When you “Hi everybody and d gu g heard a pleasant good hea he h a Don’s work, you heard evening to you,” joyy because he loved what he jjo Scully said as he did di d d and put it there. He didn’t took the podium. just jju st sound good, his reads felt good. good go od They had a point of view. They “AFTRA is truly T Th ey had intelligence. They had humor. the greatest humo hu mo Frank Welker may have said union on Earth,” sa aid iitt best when he said, ‘Don LaFontaine made music he added in LaF La F Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler thanked of nonsense.’” accepting the out ou t his friend, Vin Scully, for weaving his Dodgers play-by-play into stories. award. “I’m Flanked by their so proud to be an Fla Fl a daughters Skye and AFTRA member a and nd d dau da u Elyse, Whitaker-LaFontaine told the this honor is very dear to me. Thank you audience she was “humbled and grateful so much to the AFTRA Foundation for and thrilled for my boy,” in accepting the this award and for all the support you award—the first to go a voiceover artist. provide to AFTRA members around the country.” the Clippers,” Ralph Lawler, who took to the podium and welcomed his “fellow cardholders.”

Get to Know Your National Agency Department By Megan Capuano National Director, Agent Relations In your search for representation to secure AFTRA-covered work in one of our many areas of jurisdiction—from primetime sitcoms and dramas to videogames and audiobooks—you have probably been asked by an agent to sign some type of an agreement. This can be a very scary experience. After all, you’re trying to get an agent who will secure and negotiate employment for you but you are not sure you are signing something that benefits you and your career.

Term of Agency Contract There are restrictions on the length of time you can sign an agency agreement with your franchised agent. An initial term contract, which means the first time you are signing with a particular franchised agency, can only be for up to 18 months.

Spring 2009

Signing an exclusive agency agreement with an agent is not a decision that should be taken lightly or without guidance. And that’s where your AFTRA Agency Department comes into play and lets you know your choices.

AFTRA Magazine


Did you know that as an AFTRA member you can ask our staff to review any and all forms an agent may ask you to sign? We can walk you through this process on a personal level, either face-to-face or over the phone. Many performers ask, “What forms will a franchised agency ask me to sign if I agree to representation?” Well, there are two standard AFTRA Agency Contracts that franchised agents use when signing performers for representation. By becoming an agency franchised by AFTRA, agents agree to use these contracts when signing members for representation.

“Megan Capuano with Agent Relations has helped me immensely; from sorting through a complicated agency contract by breaking it down paragraph by paragraph, to franchising my agency with AFTRA. The day after the agency agreed to franchise, Megan had all their paperwork done and made the process quick and easy for both parties.” —AFTRA NY actor Rob Welsh

AFTRA Standard Agency Contracts The first standard AFTRA contract you may receive from your agent is called the Standard AFTRA Exclusive Agency Contract Exhibit C, which covers all areas under AFTRA’s jurisdiction except Commercials. The second standard AFTRA contract you may receive is called the Standard AFTRA Exclusive Commercial Contract, which covers representation for Commercials. Your agent can ask you to sign one or both of these agreements.

This initial term contract can be renewed after one year of representation. Relationships with agents grow and change over time. If your relationship with your agency isn’t what you thought it would be at the time it expires, you are free to move to another franchised agency after the initial term of 18 months is over. Exclusive Representation It is important to know that by signing these agreements you agree to be

exclusively represented by this agency. This means that you are obligated to pay the agency commission for any work negotiated for you during the term of that agency agreement. Your commission obligation to an agency lasts for the life of any employment contract negotiated during the term of your agency agreement. This means your obligation to your agency may extend beyond the term of your agency agreement. For example, if you are signed to an initial term agency agreement for 18 months but sign a three-year employment contract during the term of this agency agreement, you are obligated to pay commission to that agency for the entire three years of that employment contract. When you visit with a franchised agent and are asked to sign an agreement with them for representation, you have a right to ask them for time to review the language in the contract. Please feel free to contact the National Agency Department with questions regarding the agency agreement your agent asks you to sign. You can email an Agency Department Representative at to schedule a time to review the standard AFTRA agency contracts. You will receive personal attention from an Agency Department representative ready to answer all your questions. Prior to going to an agent’s office, you can print the standard AFTRA agency contracts from our Web site at http://www Having a copy of the contract in hand is a great way to be prepared to discuss questions about your representation. It’s also very helpful to the franchised agents, who quite often start working to procure employment for performers the moment you both agree to representation. For more tips and agency information, go to


AFTRA H&R Makes Changes to Retirement Plan The Trustees of our AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds, who represent both union members and signatory employers, have voted to make two changes to our Retirement Plan, both of which will go into effect later this year and are designed to protect our pension plan for the future. Under the new rules:

This change is especially important at a time when salary compression has become a harsh reality for workers throughout the entertainment and media industries. A system that looks only at your earnings—a model developed in the 1950s—means fewer credits for you if your salary declines. By factoring contribution percentage rates into your credits, your future credits will recognize this when you work under contracts with higher contribution rates—even though your earnings may have stagnated or actually fallen. continued on page 18

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: Is the type of pension benefit I receive changing? No. The AFTRA Retirement Plan provides you with a “defined benefit” pension plan. In other words, when you retire, the Plan will pay you a set monthly amount or annuity based on a benefit accrual formula. This is not changing. You will continue to receive your regular monthly pension payment.

What happens to the pension benefits I have earned to date? The pension benefits you have earned to date are protected and cannot be decreased. The new contributions-based formula begins on May 1, 2009, and does not affect any benefits earned prior to that date. The current annual maximum benefit of $108,000 per year

has not changed and you will continue to accrue benefits up to that maximum. What happens when I am ready to retire? When you are ready to retire your pension benefit will be based on the combined benefit received from the two formulas: Prior to May 1, 2009: Earnings-based formula After May 1, 2009: Contributions-based formula

What if I am already retired? There is no impact on members currently receiving pension payments. Your monthly payments will continue as usual.

Is this change the result of bad investments? No. The professionals who manage the AFTRA

Retirement Plan’s investments are some of the best in the business. In 2008, when the major markets were down approximately 40%, the Plan’s investments declined less than 24%. Over the last three years, the Retirement Funds total return puts it in the top 25% of multi-employer plans with a similar exposure to equity markets.

What is happening to the Health Plan?

It’s important to keep in mind that pension plans are designed to provide benefits reliably over many decades and thus one should measure their returns over a very long-term horizon. During the 20-year period from 1988 to 2007—a period that included the downturn years of 2000-2002—the AFTRA Retirement Plan’s investments generated an average annual return of 9.2%.

The Funds will formally notify Plan participants in early April 2009.

There are no new changes to the Health Plan. As previously announced, Health Plan premiums will increase by 5% on April 1, 2009, but no other changes are planned at this time.

When will these changes be formally announced to members?

What can AFTRA members do to help protect our health and pension benefits? The Obama Administration has made health care reform a high priority. Visit the AFLCIO Web site ( .org) for information on how you can get involved and take action.

Spring 2009

As of May 1, 2009, the way pension benefits are calculated will change from a formula based solely on how much money you earned to one based on how much money your employers contributed to the Health & Retirement Funds on your behalf. As of December 1, 2009, the minimum annual earnings threshold needed to earn a pension credit for vesting, accrual, and participation purposes will increase to $15,000. The previous minimum was $7,500 a year. Even with this change, the new threshold for our Plan is still lower than the threshold for most other similar industry plans.

17 AFTRA Magazine

The new formula for calculating future pension credits acknowledges that AFTRA members work under many different contracts with different contribution rates and at different salary levels. Moving to a contribution-based model means that members who work under contracts with higher contribution rates will get credit for the larger contributions their employment generates.

continued from page 17

The higher earnings threshold is a painful, but overdue step that the Trustees believe will also help our Retirement Plan to weather what most experts agree will be a difficult economic environment for the next few years. The AFTRA Plan’s previous threshold of $7,500 was, by far, the lowest in the industry for many years. The new threshold brings the AFTRA Plan closer in line to other industry plans.

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Spring 2009

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To its credit, the AFTRA Plan has followed a smart, stable, and diversified investment strategy. But like every other pension plan in the country—whether union, corporate, or public sector—our Plan has felt the impact of the current economic turmoil. Although the investment markets will eventually recover, right now no expert can predict with certainty when that will happen. Given this unprecedented moment in our nation’s economy, our Trustees’ highest priority is to act quickly, decisively, and proactively to do what is necessary to ride out this downturn and safely position our Retirement Plan’s ability to protect us and grow in the future. This is not an official notice. The Funds, which are separate from the union, mailed the official notice to participants in April. A notice is also available on the AFTRA H&R Web site at for more information or call the AFTRA H&R Participant Services number at 1.800.562.4690.

Communications 2008 AFTRA Communications Survey Results

36% 19% 16% 15% 14%

The majority of those who responded have been AFTRA members for more than 20 years. Given the high level of representation from this group, clearly there is great “brand loyalty” to AFTRA that has been built over years of experience through working under AFTRA contracts, attending union activities and events, and developing your career as a professional performer. Yet just as clearly, we all need to reach out to our younger and newer members—the future of the union movement—to involve everyone, seasoned members and “newbies” alike, in their union’s work. Have you ever attended an AFTRA membership meeting? No . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51% Yes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49% If no, why not? Times/dates inconvenient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35% Not sure why I should attend or what I could learn . . . . 34% Didn’t know about meeting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22% Not interested . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9% Well, the bad news here is that about half of those responding have never attended an AFTRA meeting. The good news is that it’s not because you’re not interested! One of the things your union is striving to do is get information about meetings to you faster so you’re prepared to make the most of your AFTRA membership. Membership meetings are one of the best ways to get to know your union, meet your Local elected leaders and fellow professionals, and participate in discussions that shape your union. Check your AFTRA mail, the AFTRA Flash, and your Local’s page on the AFTRA Web site to keep up to date on events in your Local! What is your primary source of information about AFTRA’s work and AFTRA events? Primary source of information based on frequency of multiple options cited by respondents Local newsletter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45% AFTRA Flash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30%

Local communications are members’ greatest means of receiving information and updates from AFTRA. You get your news right from where you have the most frequent and direct contact. This makes sense: AFTRA is a federation of Locals, each very unique, recognizable, and—no matter your Local’s size—critically important to the union as a whole. Going forward, AFTRA is strengthening and supporting your Local’s communications to integrate news about national activities and priorities that benefit members as a whole. For example, how can AFTRA members in San Francisco share stories that help broadcasters in Kansas City get the best contract they can? How do performers in New York inform actors in Miami about success in organizing audiobook employers? How do dancers organizing music videos in Los Angeles provide information to help their counterparts in Chicago do the same? Your national communications tools—whether it’s, AFTRA Flash, or AFTRA Magazine—will also be important tools to support members’ local and national interests. Preferred method of contact based on frequency of multiple options cited by respondents Email (including AFTRA Flash) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86% Traditional mailing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10% Web site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4% An overwhelming majority of you say that email is your preferred method of contact from the union. That makes sense, given that this was an email survey. BUT DID YOU KNOW: that out of more than 70,000 active members, only about 40% of you keep your email addresses up to date so AFTRA Flash can reach you? That means 60% of you are missing out on important and timely information—so contact AFTRA today and ask to be subscribed to AFTRA Flash. If you know an AFTRA member who doesn’t get AFTRA Flash, tell them to contact the union and sign up for it. Electronic communications are the wave of the future—DON’T MISS OUT: sign up with your current email address for AFTRA Flash today! Do you read AFTRA Magazine? Always . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45% Sometimes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37% Rarely . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10% Never . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8% A lot of you are reading AFTRA Magazine. Good. We’re glad to hear it. Keep reading… continued on page 20

Spring 2009

How long have you been an AFTRA member? More than 20 years. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10-20 years. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5-10 years. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-5 years. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Less than 2 years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

AFTRA Magazine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14% Web site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11%

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Last September, AFTRA conducted a national email survey of members in an effort to enhance AFTRA member services. We wanted to learn more about the best way to provide members with important information, what activities you feel are important, and gauge members’ knowledge and understanding about activities in their local areas. Here are the results.

continued from page 19

How do you rank the importance of these activities of your union? Very Important Somewhat Not Important Important Important Increasing job opportunities for AFTRA members 80%. . . . . . 13% . . . . . . . 5% . . . . . . . .2% Negotiating higher base wages 71%. . . . . . 22% . . . . . . . 6% . . . . . . . .1% Increasing opportunities to get AFTRA H&R benefits 68%. . . . . . 23% . . . . . . . 7% . . . . . . . .2% Monitoring safety in the workplace 45%. . . . . . 32% . . . . . . 17%. . . . . . . .6% Proactively sponsoring public policy initiatives 39%. . . . . . 39% . . . . . . 17%. . . . . . . .5% Providing education on new technology and business trends 31%. . . . . . 38% . . . . . . 25%. . . . . . . .6%

Spring 2009

If you had to choose which is more important, which would you choose? Having access to more job opportunities . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80% Having less opportunity to get jobs but higher base pay . 20%

AFTRA Magazine


In 2008, AFTRA negotiated or extended eight major national agreements—a great achievement as our nation hung on the precipice of a major recession. Since the early 1990s, AFTRA members have grown work opportunities in every area of AFTRA’s jurisdiction, notably in basic cable, videogames, and audiobooks. It’s good to know that AFTRA is doing exactly what you think is most important: raising your wages, providing access to benefits, and of highest importance to most of you—keeping jobs for you to work right where you live. Today, AFTRA members need more than ever before to get involved so your union can do this work even better. Our employers are consolidating and coordinating their efforts more and more every day. The economy is tough. But AFTRA members have a distinct advantage: talent, flexibility, and a vision for the future. How do you use the AFTRA Web site? Update information and pay dues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33% Pay dues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21% Update personal information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20% Get contract/rate information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19% Update information and get contract/rate information . . . . 7% We’re working right now on a major redesign of the AFTRA Web site. Stay tuned, and if you have ideas about things you’d like to see on, send an email to Contact with member leaders Don’t know the name of any of my National Board representatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48% Know the name of Local President but have not met or spoken to him/her . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41% Don’t know the name of my Local President . . . . . . . . . . 38%

s Happines ce ConfidenS uccess Know the name of at least one of my National Board representatives, but have never met or spoken with one . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27% Have met or spoken to at least one of my National Board representatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25% Have met or spoken to my Local President . . . . . . . . . . . 21% Most members responding hadn’t met their locally elected AFTRA leadership, and that’s unfortunate. Your elected leaders in Locals across the country, are not only talented, passionate, and strong unionists; they’re also members, just like you, striving to make a career in this business. Get to know your Local leadership by attending a membership meeting, member caucus, special event, workshop, mixer, or educational opportunity hosted by your Local. If you have an idea for a mixer or other event at your Local, contact your Local President or Local Executive Director today and pitch your idea!

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Now more than ever, AFTRA members need to increase their involvement and activity in and through their union. To quote longtime AFTRA member Robert David Hall (CSI), “I have a chance through my union work to make a difference in the lives of the people around me.” You have a chance to make a difference, too. AFTRA is your union—are you making the most of it? Visit and make the most out of your AFTRA membership! Percentages are estimates based on 2,078 total respondents.

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Gentle. Caring. Comfortable. Convenient.

Spring 2009

Responses by Local Los Angeles . . . . . . . . 35% New York . . . . . . . . . . 30% DC/Baltimore . . . . . . . . 5% Chicago . . . . . . . . . . . . 5% San Francisco. . . . . . . . 4% Boston . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3% Cleveland . . . . . . . . . . . 2% Philadelphia . . . . . . . . . 2% Miami . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2% Seattle . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1% Pittsburgh . . . . . . . . . . . 1% Tri State . . . . . . . . . . . . 1% Twin Cities . . . . . . . . . . 1% Atlanta . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1% Phoenix. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1% San Diego . . . . . . . . . . 1% Detroit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1% Kansas City . . . . . . . . . 1% Portland . . . . . . . . . . . >1% Dallas/Fort Worth. . . . >1% Denver . . . . . . . . . . . . >1% New Orleans . . . . . . . >1% Houston . . . . . . . . . . . >1% Omaha . . . . . . . . . . . . >1% Other (may include Nashville & St. Louis) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3%

818-841-SMILE (7645)

21 AFTRA Magazine

Categories in which member does most work Actor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59% Background actor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10% Newsperson (on and off air) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8% Announcer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6% Singer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5% DJ/Host . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3% Dancer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1% TV host (game, talk, variety). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1% Other. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7%

Members Only AFTRA Performers Are Always Prepared When you audition for a role on an AFTRA show, are hired by a broadcast station or booked for a recording session, you want to be sure that you’re ready to work when you get the job. That means you must be a member in good standing and your dues must be paid in full. For your convenience, you can pay your dues in any of the following ways:

• • •

Online via the Members Only section By visiting or calling your Local Membership Department or calling the National Membership Department at 866.855.5191 Mailing a check (or credit card information) with your dues bill

AFTRA accepts VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.

Spring 2009

To confirm your membership status and be prepared to work on an AFTRA show, check the Members Only section of the Web site or contact the Membership Department.

AFTRA Magazine


As professionals, all members have a responsibility to pay their union dues on time; it’s only fair to apply the same rules to everyone. And—when you’ve worked an AFTRA job—AFTRA wants to be sure you are paid on time and in the correct amount. Be sure to contact your Local AFTRA office for information on the rates, terms, and conditions of your AFTRA contract and for assistance if you have questions. What Else I Can Do in the MEMBERS ONLY Section at Click on the Members Only button on the AFTRA Web site homepage to:

• •

Update your personal contact information including mailing address, phone numbers, and email address—make sure we have your current contact information to be sure you get the latest updates and information from your union! View and download your copy of the Members Guide the AFTRA Television Contract and Background Actors Guide to the AFTRA Television Contract View and download your copy of the AFTRA Los Angeles and New York Television Department Show Sheets for a complete listing of programs produced for all television and new media entertainment, variety, news, and sports programs currently under an AFTRA contract

Know Someone Who Wants to Apply for Membership in AFTRA? Aspiring professionals who are not yet members of AFTRA and who want to find out about joining, can contact the Membership Department at your Local AFTRA office or call the National Membership Department at 866.855.5191. To join online, visit

AFTRA in Action

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) has increasingly been in the news, in union publications, and talked about on Capitol Hill. The AFL-CIO is committed to seeing this bill become law and entertainment unions AFTRA, SAG, Actors Equity, IATSE, and others, have signed on to the fight. But what exactly is the Employee Free Choice Act? And why is it so important to AFTRA and to America? The Act is called Employee Free Choice because that is exactly what Americans seeking to unionize their workplace do not have under the current system. This includes some AFTRA members and many performers and broadcasters who wish to have AFTRA coverage. Today, corporations regularly use bribery and coercion to kill organizing drives, fire pro-union workers, and intimidate employees through threats and forced one-on-one anti-union meetings with management. About 82% of companies hire expensive union-busting consultants to beat back organizing activities. They game the system through near-endless delays or simple refusals to bargain truthfully with workers seeking a contract. Though illegal, there are no meaningful enforcement mechanisms to stop this behavior under the current system. The measly fines that are infrequently imposed are referred to in the unionbusting world as “hunting license fees.” Here’s a prime example of where the Employee Free Choice Act would help— a real organizing drive. WSNS-TV in Chicago is owned by the conglomerate GE/NBC/Telemundo. In 2002, all the station’s reporters and anchors signed a petition asking for AFTRA representation. The previous year, NBC had merged the non-union Spanish-speaking newsroom of WSNS with its AFTRAcovered English-speaking operation at WMAQ. The two units shared the same

assignment desk and camera crews. But the Telemundo employees did not share the same pay, hours, protections, benefits or working conditions with their NBC brethren. For example, the average salary at Telemundo is $54,000. At WMAQ, the starting salary is $78,000. Despite an 18-month effort by NBC to crush the organizing effort, including relocating some pro-union employees to stack the voting deck, repeatedly delaying the vote, and intimidating the employees during closed-door meetings with supervisors, the Telemundo broadcasters unanimously voted for AFTRA representation in 2003. Success? Hardly. Since then, NBC has engaged in stalling tactics and bad-faith bargaining practices (all but impossible to punish under the current law). Seven years after declaring their desire for AFTRA coverage, the workers at WSNS still do not have a contract and still do not share the benefits and protections of their co-workers at WMAQ. These anti-union practices are hardly limited to AFTRA’s jurisdiction. Rite Aid Corporation waged an anti-union campaign in California so vicious that the Bush-era National Labor Relations Board charged the company with 49 labor law violations. The company’s punishment included hiring back two of the more than 100 fired pro-union employees and posting a notice promising not to do it again. Though the workers voted overwhelmingly for union representation, three years after starting their drive, they still have no contract. And there are countless other examples of egregious corporate behavior. Name an industry and you’ll find abuses. The American middle class has been pulverized by corporate greed, the collapse of the economy, and an antiunion atmosphere that has prevailed for

Broadcast journalist and former Chicago Local President and current AFTRA National Vice President Dick Kay speaks at a 2002 rally in support of WSNS Telemundo employees getting AFTRA representation.

If the Employee Free Choice Act were currently the law, the Telemundo journalists at WSNS would have their AFTRA contract. Thousands of workers in other industries would also have the benefits and protections of union membership. Here is what the Employee Free Choice Act will do:

• Level the playing field between workers • • • • •

and corporations Make it easier for workers to bargain with employers Establish meaningful penalties and fines for corporations that break the law Prevent companies from gaming the system through delay Provide for mediation and arbitration when companies refuse to bargain a first contract. Give workers, not the company, the choice in how their elections will be held

“I am a broadcast journalist, and those in my profession sometimes find it difficult to speak up or speak out, even on legislative issues that greatly concern us, because of our jobs,” says longtime AFTRA member and broadcaster Belva Davis. “The Employee Free Choice Act continued on page 24

Spring 2009

By James Lurie Chair, AFTRA National Legislative and Public Affairs Committee

three decades. The middle class was created by the union movement. Even in today’s economic environment, workers in strongly unionized states out-earn other workers, have more health care, better pensions, and better working conditions. The vast majority of Americans want an economy that works for everyone. A reinvigorated union movement can help restore that.

23 AFTRA Magazine

The Employee Free Choice Act: Good for AFTRA, Good for America

continued from page 23

process,” Shiflett says. “A strong unionized is critical legislation. It protects our right work force will be the bedrock of a healthy to choose how we conduct our union elections—whether through a secret-ballot middle class in the years to come.” election or when a majority of station employees sign a petition. The Employee Free Choice Act offers the best chance in decades for broadcast journalists to form an AFTRA-covered bargaining unit and get a contract quickly once we do. In today’s economy and changing workplaces, we need the protections and benefits union membership offers. So please join me in supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.”

TAKE ACTION How can you best join Belva and Chris? The Act has broad support in Washington. It passed the House last year and 51 Senators currently back the bill. But victory is far from certain. The EFCA was re-introduced in both Houses in March and big business has launched an all-out assault on the legislation. It is critical that every AFTRA member join the fight. Go to the AFTRA Web site’s legislative section and send your Congressional representative a message with the click of a mouse. You can also join grass-roots networks or the AFL-CIO’s E-Activist network.

Davis and her fellow broadcasters are not the only ones who see the importance of the Act. AFTRA member and Foo Fighters lead guitarist Chris Shiflett is also lending his support for passage of the bill.

Or better yet, call or write your Senators and Representatives. It takes but a minute to tell them that you support this bill. A call or personal letter carries much more weight o tthan an email petition.

Spring 2009

“I support the Employee Free Choice Act because the power to form a union should be in the hands of the workers—not the corporations that currently control the

AFTRA Magazine


...The The power to form a union should be in the hands of the workers, not the corporations that currently control the process.

–AFTRA recording artist Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters.

The Employee Free Choice Act is in play in Washington right now. There is not a moment to lose. Please, get active today. AFTRA needs it. America needs it. A

AFTRA in Action

More than two decades ago, Frank Sinatra sent a letter to 24 of the biggest artists in the world, including Paul McCartney, Ella Fitzgerald, and Stevie Wonder, proposing a united effort to change a loophole in the U.S. Copyright Act that denies performers royalties when a song they perform is played on AM or FM radio. That means every time Aretha Franklin belts out “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” on AM or FM radio, she doesn’t see one penny for that song being played. Only the estate of Otis Redding, who penned the legendary tune, receives royalties for its play. It also means that the singers and musicians who helped Aretha make that song come to life, receive nothing. For more than 50 years, AFTRA along with AFM and hundreds of recording artists and musicians, including Frank Sinatra, Stan Kenton, Sam Moore, Billy Joel, and Martha Reeves, have been fighting to correct the anomaly in the law that denies performers the right to fair compensation for the use of their sound recordings. Records and the radio industry literally did not exist in 1909 when all other performable works, including books and songs, were granted a performance right. While we have succeeded in securing the right to performance royalties from all digital radio platforms, including satellite, Internet, and cable radio, we have yet to bring the largest radio platform—AM/FM radio—into the system of compensation. On February 4, the latest effort to fix this glaring inequity in the law was introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Performance Rights Act (S. 379 and H.R. 848) will ensure that recording artists, singers, and musicians are fairly compensated when their sound recordings are played on terrestrial radio. The campaign to push for passage of the bill, which has bipartisan support, started well before its introduction. AFTRA with

AFTRA singers Sheryl Crow (L) and Emmylou Harris (R) walk with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VA) at the Performance Rights Act campaign launch in DC. Photo courtesy Sean McCormick.

its partners in the musicFIRST Coalition ramped up its efforts for the performance rights campaign by sponsoring a congressional briefing with AFTRA artist Dionne Farris and a Grammy Town Hall, during the week of the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. AFTRA, along with DFE, SAG, AFM, IATSE, and Actors’ Equity, also hosted a pre-Inauguration reception in DC with special guest appearances by AFTRA artists Martha Reeves and Jackson Browne. Following the Performance Rights Act’s introduction in Congress, legendary AFTRA members Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock, Patti Labelle, Dionne Warwick, Emmylou Harris, of the Black Eyed Peas, and Jon Carroll, joined with other Local artists and members of Congress on February 24 to kick off the campaign in support of the swift passage of the Performance Rights Act. “People deserve to be paid when somebody else uses their property,” Hancock said at the event. “Just as radio promotes music, music promotes radio.”

The momentum from the campaign kickoff continued a week later, on March 3, when more than 110 singers, musicians, songwriters, and other music industry members banned together for meetings at more than 100 Congressional offices in a push for performance rights. Among the AFTRA artists lobbying that day were Suzanne Vega, Abdul “Duke” Fakir of the Four Tops, Gary U.S. Bonds, Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters, Sounds of Blackness, and AFTRA National Board member and recording artist Dan Navarro of Lowen and Navarro. Each spoke to lawmakers and their staff about how AM and FM radio should provide fair compensation to all artists whose music is used to build radio’s $16 billion business. Our campaign resulted in the addition of 12 new co-sponsors to the bill. On March 11, a full U.S. House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the Performance Rights Act from a panel of witnesses, including Smashing Pumpkins founder Billy Corgan and Paul Almeida, President of the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO.

“This issue is one of fundamental fairness,” Corgan, an AFTRA Chicago member, told the panel. “If the The event resulted in significant media performance of a song has value to coverage and many publications featured a particular terrestrial radio station in comments from AFTRA National its airing, I believe it is only right to Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth. compensate those performers who have created this work. These particular “We are grateful to our recording artist performances must have value to the members for coming to Washington, continued on page 26 DC today to raise awareness about this

Spring 2009

By Purvi Patel AFTRA National Representative

important bipartisan legislation,” Hedgpeth said. “Terrestrial radio in the U.S. is the only radio platform left that doesn’t provide fair pay for air play. Passage of the [bill] will fix this century-old loophole in the U.S. Copyright Act and will set the stage to repatriate millions of dollars now held by foreign collecting societies, back into the U.S. for the benefit of our ailing economy. We ask all those who support the bill to reach out to their Representatives and Senators and urge them to vote in favor of the Performance Rights Act and end this disparity.”

25 AFTRA Magazine

Performance Rights Act: Fair Pay for Fair Play

continued from page 25

stations or they wouldn’t be playing them.“ Almeida highlighted a fundamental principle of the labor movement that a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. “Like all professionals, singers and musicians spend years developing their musical talents and abilities and invest substantial resources in their careers,” Almeida said. “I know this has been a long-fought battle—from Glenn Miller to Frank Sinatra to those like Sam Moore, Martha Reeves, Herbie Hancock and others who are leading the charge now. “It is time that these talented artists be fairly compensated for what they create and the joy they bring into our lives,” he added.

Spring 2009

“This issue is one of fundamental fairness,” Smashing Pumpkins founder and AFTRA Chicago member Billy Corgan told the House Judiciary Committee about passage of the Performance Rights Act, with Paul Almeida to his right. Photo courtesy John Harrington.

AFTRA Magazine


Lending their support for the Performance Rights Act are the presidents of the Service Employee International Union, the American Federation of Teachers, the United Steelworkers, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the American Federation of the State, County and Municipal Employees, and the Communications Workers of America, who presented the Committee a letter supporting the bill, in solidarity with their brother and sister unions in the music industry, AFTRA and AFM. To top off the campaign, Terrie Bjorklund, AFTRA National Associate General Counsel/Copyright and Intellectual Property, organized and moderated a panel discussion, “Should Radio Pay Artists?” at the annual South-by-Southwest Music Festival in Austin, TX. Efforts continue in pushing for the passage of the bill, which was introduced in the Senate by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA); and in the House by Representative John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jane Harman (D-CA), John Shadegg (R-AZ), Paul Hodes (D-NH), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Robert Wexler (D-FL), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Henry “Hank” Johnson (D-GA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), and Anthony Weiner (D-NY).


A NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR PERFORMERS ON TOUR The new AFTRA Touring Agreement provides an opportunity for singers, dancers, and dancer choreographers who tour with AFTRA recording artists to have their touring earnings credited as AFTRA covered earnings. Prior to the creation of this new agreement, an AFTRA member employed as a touring singer or dancer became eligible for AFTRA bene¿ts only if they performed in other AFTRA contract areas, such as a studio session singer or as a performer on television and radio programs and commercials. Now touring singers, dancers, and dancer choreographers can qualify for the same AFTRA major medical, hospitalization, pension, dental, and life insurance bene¿ts as those singers and dancers who qualify by performing under other AFTRA contracts. AFTRA recording artists can also receive credit for touring earnings with the written consent of AFTRA.

Highlights of the new Agreement:

Highlights of AFTRA bene¿ts: • Major medical and hospitalization bene¿ts ($1 million lifetime payable per person) • Prescription Drug Coverage • De¿ned pension plan with both ¿ve and ten year vesting periods • Life insurance of $30,000; accidental death bene¿t of $48,000 • Loss of voice policy • Dental and vision policies • Drug and alcohol counseling bene¿ts • Entertainment industry bene¿ts plan custom made for recording artists and singers.

Spring 2009

• The recording artist’s touring company signs the AFTRA Agreement • Agreement excludes coverage to instrumentalists (AFM) or job functions covered by other unions • The touring company can make health and retirement contributions on the individual earnings of each singer, dancer, and dancer choreographer • AFTRA H&R contribution rate of 11.5% • Contributions to the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds should be tax deductible by the touring company • Agreement for use only for tours for recording artists signed to AFTRA Sound Recordings Code record labels • No minimum compensation in the Agreement, which allows the touring company to continue to conduct negotiations with singers and dancers • 100% of compensation to singers and dancers is considered AFTRA earnings, which includes compensation for rehearsal, bonus, performances, travel days, off-days, and other compensation • Resolves issues created for artist’s touring company by having to provide meaningful bene¿ts to part-time vocalist and dance employees • Creates bene¿ts for touring company that will serve as an enticement and assist in the recruitment of top session vocalists and dancers for touring season • Boosts the touring singers and dancer’s individual health and retirement contributions, which provide higher levels of insurance bene¿ts and pension payouts to the singer and dancer

AFTRA Magazine


The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are the people who entertain and inform America. Royalty artists and session singers are joined with more than 70,000 professional performers and broadcasters who are moving forward together through AFTRA to protect and improve their jobs, lives, and communities. With AFTRA, recording artists across the country have a stronger voice to win better rates and fees, bene¿ts, and working conditions. For more information about the new Touring Agreement, contact your AFTRA Local.

American Federation of Television and Radio Artists New York 260 Madison Avenue 7th Floor New York, NY 10016 212.532.0800

Los Angeles 5757 Wilshire Boulevard 9th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90036 323.634.8100

Nashville P.O. Box 121087 1108 17th Avenue South Nashville, TN 37212 615.327.2944

We Remember

Connie Zimet’s immeasurable generosity gave many now-very successful voiceover people their start and career.

would end up launching entire careers,” said Darryl Gilley, a voiceover professional and former student of Zimet. “Connie Zimet’s vivacious personality, her gift with people, her incredible expertise in our field, and her immeasurable generosity gave many nowvery successful voiceover people their start and career.”

Spring 2009

Connie Zimet, who passed away March 10, was remembered by members as a dedicated AFTRA member and leader, as well as a teacher.

AFTRA Magazine


Connie Zimet

1942-2009 Longtime AFTRA member and former President of the AFTRA Miami Local, Connie Zimet, passed away at her home in Florida on Tuesday, March 10, at the age of 67. Connie was a true AFTRA performer who delighted generations of audiences with her zest and vigor in all forms of media, from recorded albums and television to radio and the Internet. Connie faithfully served her union through both Local service in Miami and on the AFTRA National Board of Directors and on many national committees. Not only did she build the market for voiceover acting in Miami over her 30 years of residence there, she was also a mentor in the community. When she wasn’t recording, she was teaching. “Connie not only helped many, many people hone their skills and become viable, professional voiceover talent, but she would also introduce promising talent to producers and engineers which

Connie was a strong and successful recruiter for AFTRA and always encouraged voiceover talent to join the union, Gilley recalled.

“As with everything in her life, her approach to building a viable union voiceover market in South Florida was constant and passionate,” Gilley said. “She would explain to talent why they should join, the benefits, as well as the need for preserving the marketplace.” In 2006, Zimet began to experience the beginning signs of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. She had knee replacement surgery in the hopes that it would alleviate her difficulties, but in rehab it was evident that her knees were not to blame. By the last months of her life, the expressive, rich, voice that built not only her career, but the Miami voiceover industry, fell victim to the disease. Thanks to her fans and supporters online, her family was able to purchase a device that spoke for Zimet by tracking her eye movement. AFTRA members mourn her passing but will cherish forever her immeasurable contributions to her union and to the

entertainment industry she so greatly enriched. From “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company” on through the decades, if you heard a good jingle, Connie was probably on it. Board member Iris Acker said, “She was an inspiration for those of us on the Board and the entire membership.” She will be sorely missed by her students, her union and her many friends and family.

In Memoriam Dan Seals February 8, 1949 - March 25, 2009 Natasha Richardson May 11, 1963 - March 18, 2009

Ron Silver July 2, 1946 - March 15, 2009 Jimmy Boyd January 9, 1939 - March 7, 2009 Paul Harvey September 4, 1918 - February 28, 2009 Blossom Dearie April 19, 1926 - February 7, 2009 Bob May September 4, 1939 - January 18, 2009 Jimmy Crum October 21, 1928 - January 5, 2009 Pat Hingle July 19, 1924 - January 3, 2009

AFTRA Beck Report AFTRA’s Policy on New Non-Member Dues Payers & Dues Objections

Although it is not required by law to do so, AFTRA has voluntarily elected to automatically categorize all non-members as dues objectors and to follow the procedures outlined below. However, AFTRA reserves its right to change this approach at any time, and require a specific election by non-members that they object to the union’s expenditures. When considering this option, AFTRA-represented employees should be aware that the union security clause contained in their collective bargaining agreement was negotiated and ratified by their fellow employees and is intended to ensure that all those who benefit from the collective bargaining process share in its cost. Before choosing to forego union membership, employees should consider that the collective bargaining agreement establishes industry-wide standards for minimum scale and other critical working conditions. Further, employees should consider the many benefits of union membership that are not available to non-member dues payers. These valuable benefits of membership include: the right to attend and participate in union meetings and to serve on union committees; the right to participate in the formulation of collective bargaining demands and to vote on union contracts and in strike votes; the right to nominate and vote for candidates for union office; the right to run for union office; the right to participate in casting workshops, personal service agreement workshops and other professional seminars; the right to invoke the AFTRA name in resumes and individual promotional materials; assistance with franchised talent agencies, and eligibility for supplemental benefit and discount programs such as union credit cards, prescription drug cards, life insurance, legal and travel services.

AFTRA’s current dues objection policy works as follows: Dues and initiation fees payable by non-member objectors will be based on AFTRA’s expenditures for those activities

Among the expenditures currently treated as “non-chargeable,” which non-member objectors are not required to support, are those spent for community services; lobbying; cost of affiliation with non-AFTRA organizations; recruitment of members to the union; organizing; and members-only benefits. The reduced dues/fees of non-member objectors will be calculated and will be reflected in their respective dues bills. Non-members and new employees will be given an explanation of the basis for the reduced dues/fees charged to them. That explanation will include a detailed list of the categories of expenditures deemed to be “chargeable” and those deemed to be “non-chargeable” and an accountant’s report verifying the breakdown of “chargeable” and “non-chargeable” expenditures. Non-member objectors will have the option of challenging the calculation of the reduced dues/fees before an impartial arbitrator appointed by the American Arbitration Association, and a portion of the non-member objector’s dues/fees reflecting sums reasonably in dispute will be held in escrow pending the arbitration decision. Details concerning the arbitration process and related matters will be provided to those non-member objectors who challenge the dues/fees calculations. Once an individual has elected non-member status, that person will be treated as an objector unless the individual notifies the Executive Director of the AFTRA Local to which the individual pays his or her dues that he or she wishes to apply for membership status and the individual is granted membership status. If an AFTRA member who resigns from union membership and assumes the status of a non-member dues payer subsequently desires to regain his or her union membership, his or her application must be approved by both the AFTRA National and applicable Local Board and that individual will be assessed a new initiation fee at the current rates.

Spring 2009

Employees who work under AFTRA collective bargaining agreements containing union security clauses are required, as a condition of employment, to either become members of AFTRA or to pay dues and initiation fees to AFTRA as nonmember dues payers. Employees who elect not to be members of AFTRA but to instead pay dues and initiation fees as nonmember dues payers have the right to object to the expenditure of their dues/fees on certain activities or projects that are categorized as “non chargeable” because they are considered not “germane to collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment.”

undertaken by AFTRA to advance the employment-related interests of the employees it represents. These “chargeable” expenditures include but are not limited to expenses related to the following: negotiations with employers: enforcing collective bargaining agreements; informal meetings with employer representatives; member and staff committee meetings concerned with matters relating to employment practices and/or collective bargaining provisions; discussion of work-related issues with employers; handling employees’ work-related problems through grievance and arbitration procedures, administrative agencies or informal meetings; union administration, litigation and publications relating to any of the above.

29 AFTRA Magazine

The following is AFTRA’s policy concerning non-member dues payers and dues objections. This policy came about as a result of decisions of the United States Supreme Court.

AFTRA Locals ATLANTA Melissa Goodman, Exec. Dir. 455 E. Paces Ferry Rd., NE, Ste. 334 Atlanta, GA 30305 Phone: 404.239.0131 Fax: 404.239.0137 BOSTON Dona Sommers, Exec. Dir. 20 Park Plaza, Ste. 822 Boston, MA 02116-4399 Phone: 617.262.8001 Fax: 617.262.3006 BUFFALO Broadcast Department:800.638.6796 National Membership: 866.855.5191 CHICAGO Eileen Willenborg, Exec. Dir. One East Erie, Ste. 650 Chicago, IL 60611 Phone: 312.573.8081 Fax: 312.573.0318

Spring 2009

CLEVELAND Cathy Nowlin, Exec. Dir. 820 W. Superior Ave., Ste. 240 Cleveland, OH 44113-1800 Phone: 216.781.2255 Fax: 216.781.2257

AFTRA Magazine


DALLAS/FORT WORTH T.J. Jones, Texas Reg. Exec. 6060 N. Central Expwy, Ste. 468 Dallas, TX 75206 Phone: 214.363.8300 Fax: 214.363.5386 DENVER Julie Crane, Exec. Dir. 1400 16th St., Ste. 400 Denver, CO 80202 Phone: 720.932.8228 Fax: 720.932.8194 DETROIT Lorain Obomanu, Exec. Dir./Nat’l Rep. 23800 W. Ten Mile Rd., Ste. 228 Southfield, MI 48034 Phone: 248.228.3171 Fax: 248.223.9223 FRESNO Contact San Francisco Local: 415.391.7510 HAWAII Contact Los Angeles Local: 323.634.8100 Members only call toll-free: 866.634.8100 HOUSTON Contact Texas Regional office 214.363.8300

Members only call toll-free 800.922.3872 Brenda Blackmon is the co-anchor of New York City’s My9 WWOR-TV’s 10 p.m. newscast. When she began her broadcasting career in her hometown of Columbus, GA, she was the city’s first AfricanAmerican anchor. Blackmon says now more than ever, being an AFTRA member is important. “AFTRA is full of so many talented people and to get to reach out and get to know them is really the best opportunity there is. So when people talk about the downturn in the economy, it’s really a chance for networking and getting to know one another.”

KANSAS CITY John Miller, Exec. Dir. 4000 Baltimore, 2nd Fl. Kansas City, MO 64111 Phone: 816.753.4557 Fax: 816.753.1234 LOS ANGELES Bill Thomas, Exec. Dir. 5757 Wilshire Blvd., 9th Fl. Los Angeles, CA 90036-3689 Phone: 323.634.8100 Fax: 323.634.8246 MIAMI Herta Suarez, Exec. Dir./ Southeast Reg. Dir. 3050 Biscayne Rd., Ste. 501 Miami, FL 33137 Phone: 305.571.9891 Fax: 305.571.9892 Members outside Miami area Phone: 800.330.2387 MILWAUKEE Contact Chicago Local: 312.573.8081 NASHVILLE Randall Himes, Exec. Dir. P.O. Box 121087 1108 17th Ave. South Nashville, TN 37212 Phone: 615.327.2944 Fax: 615.329.2803 NEW ORLEANS Contact Miami Local: 800.330.2387 NEW YORK Stephen Burrow, Exec. Dir. 260 Madison Ave., 7th Fl. New York, NY 10016-2401 Phone: 212.532.0800 Fax: 212.545.1238

“AFTRA is full of so many talented people.” PHOENIX Roxanne Chaisson, Exec. Dir. 20325 N. 51st Ave., Ste. 134 Glendale, AZ 85308 Phone: 623.687.9977 Fax: 623.362.2218

SEATTLE Brad Anderson, Exec. Dir. 4000 Aurora Ave. N., Ste. 102 Seattle, WA 98103-7853 Phone: 206.282.2506 Fax: 206.282.7073

PITTSBURGH John Haer, Exec. Dir. 625 Stanwix St., Ste. 2007 Pittsburgh, PA 15222 Phone: 412.281.6767 Fax: 412.281.2444

ST. LOUIS John Miller, Exec. Dir. 1310 Papin, Ste. #103 St. Louis, MO 63103 Phone: 314.231.8410 Fax: 314.231.8412

PORTLAND Wesley Jones, Nat’l Rep. 1125 SE Madison, Ste. 204 Portland, OR 97214 Phone: 503.279.9600 Fax: 503.279.9603

TRI-STATE Includes Cincinnati, Columbus & Dayton, OH; Indianapolis, IN, and Louisville, KY John Haer, Exec. Dir. Tim Williams, Nat’l Rep. 1056 Delta Ave., #4 Cincinnati, OH 45208 Phone: 513.579.8668 Fax: 513.579.1617

ROCHESTER Contact National: 866.855.5191

OMAHA Erik Whitmore, President 3000 Farnam St., Ste. 3E Omaha, NE 68131 Phone: 402.346.8384

SACRAMENTO/STOCKTON Contact San Francisco Local: 415.391.7510 Members only call toll-free: 888.238.7250

ORLANDO Contact Miami Local: 800.330.2387

SAN DIEGO Contact Los Angeles Local: 866.634.8100

PEORIA Contact National: 866.855.5191

SAN FRANCISCO Frank Du Charme, Exec. Dir. 350 Sansome St., Ste. 900 San Francisco, CA 94104 Phone: 415.391.7510 Fax: 415.391.1108

PHILADELPHIA Stephen Leshinski, Exec. Dir. 230 South Broad St., Ste. 500 Philadelphia, PA 19102-1229 Phone: 215.732.0507 Fax: 215.732.0086

SCHENECTADY/ALBANY Contact New York Local: 212.532.0800

TWIN CITIES Colleen Aho, Exec. Dir. 2610 University Ave. W., Ste. 350 St. Paul, MN 55114 Phone: 651.789.8990 Fax: 651.789.8993 WASHINGTON/BALTIMORE Patricia O’Donnell, Exec. Dir. 7735 Old Georgetown Rd. Ste. 950 Bethesda, MD 20814 Phone: 301.657.2560 Fax: 301.656.3615


Top row: Berry Gordy with honoree Smokey Robinson; Marcia Wallace and Patrika Darbo; Kathleen Noone with actor and presenter Terrence Howard; Vince Van Patten and his wife, The Young and the Restless’ Eileen Davidson. Second row: 2009 AMEE honorees Robinson and Jeanne Cooper; Gordy, Howard, Robinson with Ben Vereen; AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon with AFTRA National First Vice President and AMEES master of ceremonies Bob Edwards; honoree Vin Scully with AMEE Committee member Susan Boyd Joyce; Y&R’s Adrienne Frantz. Third Row: AFTRA Director of Communications Christopher de Haan with AFTRA Director of Commercials Treslyn Williams; AFTRA Foundation President Shelby Scott and AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth; presenter and Y&R’s co-executive producer and head writer Maria Arena Bell with the show’s Kate Linder; Scully (r) chats with WMA agent Chris Burke; AEA Executive Director John Connolly and ACTRA President Richard Hardacre. Fourth Row: Robinson and Reardon; Nita Whitaker-LaFontaine and Vereen; Reardon with Scully; Robinson with his wife Frances Glandney and daughters Kelly (L) and Brandy (R); Arena Bell. Bottom Row: Cooper with her children (L-R) Collin Bernsen, Corbin Bernsen, and Caren Wilson; Jaycee Jewel; Cooper with The Bold and the Beautiful’s Heather Tom; Hardacre with AFTRA Los Angeles Local President Ron Morgan, Bernsen, and ACTRA Executive Director Stephen Waddell; Y&R’s Jess Walton with Noone Photos by Michael Buckner and Vince Bucci, Getty Images

AFTRA Magazine Spring 2009  

Special AMEE Awards Issue

AFTRA Magazine Spring 2009  

Special AMEE Awards Issue