AFTRA crafts new TV contract with networks


The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) has reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract that includes a 6% pay increase. The agreement with the four major TV broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) and other producers is on terms for a successor agreement to the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting, “Front of the Book.” Negotiations began 11/7, and were held at the offices of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

The agreement replaces a contract that expired last month and had been extended for one year. AFTRA members achieved a primary objective in this negotiation: a 1% increase in employer contributions to the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds upon ratification, which will bring the total health and retirement contribution rate to 16.5%. Upon ratification, the three-year agreement will run from Nov. 16, 2011 through Nov. 15, 2014.

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 dayparts (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, soaps, 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 others.

More details on the agreement:
·         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

Said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon, who chaired the 25-member negotiating committee of working members from Locals around the nation: “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.”  

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