Nellie Andreeva

After a month of negotiations, AFTRA has reached a tentative 3-year agreement with the Big 4 broadcast networks and other producers for a new Network Television Code, which covers all programming except network scripted primetime series. The most recent one-year extension to the previous AFTRA Network Television Code expired on Nov. 15. The new agreement, which runs from Nov. 16, 2011 through Nov. 15, 2014, calls for a 1% increase in employer contributions to the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds upon ratification as well as a 2% wage increase every year. Here is the announcement with additional details:

LOS ANGELES (Dec. 9, 2011) – The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO – a national union of more than 70,000 performers, recording artists and broadcast professionals – today announced that AFTRA members have reached a tentative agreement with the four major television broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) and other producers on terms for a successor agreement to the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting, aka, the “Front of the Book.” Negotiations began on Nov. 7, and were held at the offices of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

AFTRA members achieved their primary objective in this negotiation: a 1% increase in employer contributions to the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds upon ratification, which will bring the total H&R contribution rate to 16.5%. Upon ratification, the three-year agreement will run from Nov. 16, 2011 through Nov. 15, 2014.

Other highlights include:

  • Increase wages by 6% over the term of the agreement (2% each year) for most categories
  • Increase minimum hazard pay for Dancers from $80 to $100 per day, and from $100 to $125 per program
  • The $37.50 overtime rate for Singers will be paid starting at the 7th instead of the 9th hour
  • Increase the minimum work day for Stand-Ins who work on primetime variety and award shows, which will increase the minimum daily rate by 20% to 67%
  • Improved contract language to increase equal employment opportunities for union performers including an agreement to add “Gender Identity” to the Union’s  Paragraph 97 diversity report form

AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon, who chaired the 25-member negotiating committee of working members from Locals around the nation, praised the tentative agreement saying: “Our negotiating committee of rehearsal and background actors, promo announcers, freelance newspersons, stunt performers, singers, dancers and, of course, actors, worked together seamlessly to deliver an agreement that guarantees increases and improvements for all union members who work, or who will work, under this contract.”

Reardon continued: “I especially acknowledge the tremendous dedication and skill of Kim Roberts Hedgpeth and her terrific team of staff. AFTRA members are fortunate to be supported by such an amazing group of professionals.”

AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth served as Chief Negotiator for the Union, and was assisted co-negotiators Joan Halpern Weise, AFTRA Assistant National Executive Director of Entertainment Programming, and Stephen Burrow, AFTRA New York Local Executive Director.

The Network Code “Front of the Book” is the Union’s largest national collective bargaining agreement and generates more than $250 million a year in member earnings. The Code covers programming in all television day parts (except for scripted primetime programs on the networks and the CW which are covered under the AFTRA Exhibit A contract) and programming produced for digital media. Covered programs include dramas in first-run syndication, morning news shows, talk shows, serials (soap operas), variety, reality, contest, sports and promotional announcements. Current programs covered by this contract include: “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “The Price is Right,” “The Young and the Restless,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Voice,” “Amazing Race,” “Nightline,” “Deal or No Deal,” “Late Night with David Letterman” and “American Idol” among many others.

Full details of the tentative agreement will be submitted for approval to the AFTRA National Board on Jan. 28, 2012. Subject to the Board’s approval, the agreement will be sent out for ratification by the Union’s membership.

AFTRA has one more national contract negotiation to conclude before the end of the year: the AFTRA Sound Recordings Code. In August, AFTRA members commenced bargaining with representatives from Sony, UMG, Warner, EMI, Disney and most of their subsidiary labels for a successor agreement to the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Sound Recordings, the Union’s second largest national contract. AFTRA members are scheduled to return to Sound Recordings Code negotiations in New York on Dec. 14 and 15. The Sound Recordings Code is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2011.

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