There was a flurry of bad and good news from AFTRA’s National Board meeting by videoconference between Los Angeles and New York this weekend:

— “Shelby Scott, who serves as Union Chair of the AFTRA Health & Retirement Trustees, reported that while the major global equity markets, including here in the U.S., were down approximately 40% in 2008, the AFTRA Retirement Fund limited its losses to about 23.4%.”

— “Despite this relatively positive performance, in order to prepare the Fund to withstand the uncertain economy, the Trustees have made two changes to the AFTRA Retirement Plan. First, as of May 1, 2009, the way pension benefits are calculated will change from a formula based solely on an individual’s earnings to one based on the actual contribution made by employers on behalf of an individual to the H&R Funds, by taking into account both the individual’s earnings as well
as the H&R percentage rate in the contracts under which the individual works.

“Second, 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 the AFTRA Plan is still lower than the threshold for most other similar industry plans. Scott observed, “The Trustees, both Union and Management, believe it is necessary to adjust benefits now to ensure the Retirement Fund protects participants in the future and is positioned to weather the immediate crisis in the American economy. But more important, this change in structure is designed to prepare for the shifts we believe are coming in how our members earn income under their contracts, and to factor in that over the past several years, our members have invested a lot of bargaining capital at the negotiating table to raise contribution rates in our contracts. “

— “Scott reported that there are no changes to the Health Plan.” [As previously announced, Health Plan premiums will increase by 5% on April 1, 2009.]

—  “Mathis L. Dunn, Jr., Assistant National Executive Director for Commercials, Non-Broadcast/Industrials, and Interactive Media, and Chief Negotiator for the AFTRA Commercial Contracts, provided the National Board with an update on the progress of joint commercials contracts negotiations which began on February 23 in New York. The negotiations are scheduled to continue through March 31, 2009, the date the contracts are set to expire. Bargaining is progressing under a press blackout.”

— “In her address to the AFTRA National Board, President Roberta Reardon observed, ‘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. From the Employee Free Choice Act to the Performance Rights Act, AFTRA members are inspired by a new administration in Washington. Organizing is our priority — particularly in a down economy — and the time is now. The diversity of work opportunities under AFTRA contracts is our strength: when one job area declines, another grows. Whether it’s scripted dramatic programming, videogames, audiobooks, broadcast news, a studio album, or a basic cable program, you don’t have to look outside of AFTRA for your next job.’ “

—  “President Reardon applauded AFL-CIO President John Sweeney for his continued leadership and support, and she thanked Screen Actors Guild (SAG) President Alan Rosenberg, SAG Interim National Executive Director David White, and the SAG committee members who have been working with AFTRA members on the joint AFTRA and SAG commercials contracts negotiations.”

— “President Reardon also congratulated the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) on the union’s recent ratification of a successor Hollywood Basic Agreement.”

— “The AFTRA National Board will next meet on August 4 and 5 before the AFTRA National Convention in Chicago.”

The full text from the board, plus AFTRA President Roberta Reardon’s letter to members about the pension changes, and a FAQ about it, are continued on the next page.

An Important Message from the President

PLEASE NOTE: This is an important notice from your union, AFTRA, concerning changes in retirement benefits. It is not a formal notice from the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds. This explanation is provided by the union and not the Funds. The Funds’ notice and detailed explanation of the changes will be provided to members in early April.

March 21, 2009

Dear AFTRA member:

Today the AFTRA National Board received an update from our AFTRA H&R Funds. 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:

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.

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.

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 the1950s—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.

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.

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, will be sending the official notice to members in early April. We understand from the Funds that more information will be available at that time. If, after you receive the official notice, you still have questions, please visit the AFTRA H&R website at http://www.aftrahr.com for more information, or call the AFTRA H&R Participant Services number at 1.800.562.4690 so that someone can assist you.

Yours in solidarity,
Roberta Reardon

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS REGARDING YOUR AFTRA HEALTH & RETIREMENT PLANS
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 more than 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.

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%.

What is happening to the Health Plan?
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?
The Funds will formally notify Plan participants in early April 2009.

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 AFL-CIO website (www.afl-cio.org) for information on how you can get involved and take action.

AFTRA National Board of Directors Sets Organizing Priorities for the Future of the Entertainment and Media Industries

LOS ANGELES AND NEW YORK (March 22, 2009)—Meeting by videoconference
between Los Angeles and New York, the National Board of Directors of the
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) yesterday
received reports and authorized actions designed to strengthen the union’s
ability to organize work for AFTRA members across the spectrum of the
entertainment and media industries.

In her address to the AFTRA National Board, President Roberta Reardon
observed, “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. From the Employee Free Choice Act to the Performance
Rights Act, AFTRA members are inspired by a new administration in
Washington. Organizing is our priority—particularly in a down economy—and
the time is now. The diversity of work opportunities under AFTRA contracts is
our strength: when one job area declines, another grows. Whether it’s
scripted dramatic programming, videogames, audiobooks, broadcast news, a
studio album, or a basic cable program, you don’t have to look outside of
AFTRA for your next job.”

President Reardon applauded AFL-CIO President John Sweeney for his
continued leadership and support, and she thanked Screen Actors Guild (SAG)
President Alan Rosenberg, SAG Interim National Executive Director David
White, and the SAG committee members who have been working with AFTRA
members on the joint AFTRA and SAG commercials contracts negotiations.
President Reardon also congratulated the International Alliance of Theatrical
and Stage Employees (IATSE) on the union’s recent ratification of a
successor Hollywood Basic Agreement.

AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth opened her remarks
to the AFTRA National Board by commending the volunteer members serving
on the joint commercials contracts negotiations for their hard work and
leadership. “Through the hard work of dedicated member volunteers, we are
fortunate to have successfully negotiated a number of collective bargaining
agreements last year. We are moving forward with administering those
agreements to provide increased employment opportunities for AFTRA
members under contracts with strong wages and benefits. The good news is
that AFTRA members have many opportunities for work in an otherwise
depressed economy. As we look ahead, our challenge is to educate and
inform our members about what is happening in their industries so they are
prepared for the hard work of organizing and collective bargaining in this
economy and in the years to come.”

Anita Hollander, New York actress and Co-Chair of the AFTRA, AEA, and SAG
Tri-Union Performers with Disabilities Committee reported on the recent
activities of the IAMPWD (Inclusion in the Arts and Media of People With
Disabilities) Campaign. Since its kick-off on October 6, 2008, IAMPWD has
been honored with awards, has launched a dedicated website, and has
established five action groups, among other activities. IAMPWD is moving
forward in four areas critical to AFTRA members, specifically: member
mobilization and organizing, strategic planning, creating strategic outside
alliances, and making the union labor movement relevant to the general public
where one in five Americans is a person with a disability. “Today we’ve placed
our campaign on the radar screen of groups monitoring the treatment of
people with disabilities,” said Hollander. “Disability rights are human rights.”
IAMPWD is a global civil rights campaign seeking equal employment
opportunities for artists and professionals with disabilities throughout the
entertainment and news media, and is dedicated to ending the discrimination
and exclusion of performers and broadcasters with disabilities.

The AFTRA Legislative and Public Affairs Committee reported on the union’s
increased activities aimed at helping to pass the Performance Rights Act and
the Employee Free Choice Act. Both pieces of legislation have bipartisan
support and are significant legislative priorities that, if passed, will benefit the
careers and professional lives of many AFTRA members across the nation. The
National Board has previously gone on record as supporting both initiatives.

The AFTRA Audio Bookreaders Caucus reported success in organizing two
employers who produce audiobooks – Gildan Media and digital download giant
Audible.com – under stand-alone audiobook agreements. These two
agreements set minimum rates, working conditions, and employer health and
retirement contributions for AFTRA members working on audiobooks for the
two employers.

Mathis L. Dunn, Jr., Assistant National Executive Director for Commercials,
Non-Broadcast/Industrials, and Interactive Media, and Chief Negotiator for
the AFTRA Commercial Contracts, provided the National Board with an update
on the progress of joint commercials contracts negotiations which began on
February 23 in New York. The negotiations are scheduled to continue through
March 31, 2009, the date the contracts are set to expire. Bargaining is
progressing under a press blackout.

Board members authorized President Reardon to appoint a Non-
Broadcast/Industrials Steering Committee, subject to approval by the union’s
Administrative Committee, to prepare for renegotiation of the AFTRA Non-
Broadcast/Industrial/Educational Code. The current contract, which covers
performers working on industrial, educational, sales, and training programs not
intended for broadcast, will expire on October 31, 2009.

Past AFTRA National President and current AFTRA Foundation Board of
Directors President Shelby Scott reported to the Board that the 2009 AFTRA
Media and Entertainment Excellence Awards (The AMEES) were held on
Monday, March 9 in Los Angeles, and brought in more than 340 guests and
raised thousands of dollars in support of the AFTRA Foundation. The AFTRA
Foundation is a charitable and educational organization funded through tax-
deductible contributions, grants, and bequests to support projects outside
the scope of normal AFTRA activities.

Scott, who also serves as Union Chair of the AFTRA Health & Retirement
Trustees, reported that the while the major global equity markets, including
here in the U.S., were down approximately 40% in 2008, the AFTRA
Retirement Fund limited its losses to about 23.4%. Despite this relatively
positive performance, in order to prepare the Fund to withstand the uncertain
economy, the Trustees have made two changes to the AFTRA Retirement
Plan. First, as of May 1, 2009, the way pension benefits are calculated will
change from a formula based solely on an individual’s earnings to one based
on the actual contribution made by employers on behalf of an individual to
the H&R Funds, by taking into account both the individual’s earnings as well
as the H&R percentage rate in the contracts under which the individual
works. Second, 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 the AFTRA Plan
is still lower than the threshold for most other similar industry plans.

Scott observed, “The Trustees, both Union and Management, believe it is
necessary to adjust benefits now to ensure the Retirement Fund protects
participants in the future and is positioned to weather the immediate crisis in
the American economy. But more important, this change in structure is
designed to prepare for the shifts we believe are coming in how our members
earn income under their contracts, and to factor in that over the past several
years, our members have invested a lot of bargaining capital at the
negotiating table to raise contribution rates in our contracts. Scott reported
that there are no changes to the Health Plan.

The National Board also received committee reports from the Finance, Equal
Employment Opportunities, and Broadcast Steering Committees, in addition to
the Multi-Regional Organizing Work Group. During its meeting, the National
Board unanimously approved a redesign of the AFTRA website that will
enhance access to information and member interaction to support the
organizing objectives of the union.

Saturday’s National Board meeting was held in the memory of longtime AFTRA
members Betsy Ames, Jimmy Boyd, Jimmy Crum, Sammy Davis Jr.’s widow
Altovies Davis, Blossom Dearie, Paul Harvey, Pat Hingle, Natasha Richardson,
Ron Silver, Studs Terkel, and past Miami Local President and former National
Board member Connie Zimet, all of whom passed away since the Board last
met on October 5, 2008. President Reardon posthumously presented Connie
Zimet with an AFTRA Founders Award accepted on her behalf by Miami Local
member David Scott.

The AFTRA National Board will next meet on August 4 and 5 before the AFTRA
National Convention in Chicago.