You may remember that 10 days ago SAG’s National Board deliberated about the petition drive lobbying for splitsville1.jpg“affected member voting” and then voted 60/40 in favor of a motion to refer it to the union’s Guild Government Review Committee “for proper review”. Now AFTRA has done something nearly identical, only the union appointed a special committee to consider the issue, which will then reported back to an AFTRA panel, which will then take it to AFTRA’s national board. But, to AFTRA’s credit, the union today did set actual deadlines. The special committee will submit a report to AFTRA’s Administrative Committee by May 23, so that AFTRA’s National Board can take up the matter on June 6-7.

The real question, however, is whether this “affected member” voting issue will be decided in a timely enough fashion to go into effect if approved for the vote on what will be AFTRA’s eventual new contract negotiated with the AMPTP. So now I’m urging SAG to set a similar timeline to AFTRA’s so that this matter can be decided once and for all. No matter if you agree with them or not, the 1,500+ backers of the petition drive have played by the rules; they deserve an answer.

But once they have it from both SAG and AFTRA, they can’t keep bitching about SAG leadership’s treatment of them since it will be identical to that of AFTRA’s leadership (which interestingly the petition drivers have yet to publicly criticize).  

As you know, DHD has been active in this debate by letting actors post their positions pro and con this idea of an earnings threshold for “qualified voting” on the union’s contract issues. Stephen Collins (who will be chairing AFTRA’s special panel on the petition), Amy Brenneman and Ned Vaughn have written in favor while Ron Livingston and Frances Fisher have written in opposition. For SAG’as most recent developments, see my previous, SAG Natl Board Sends “Affected Member” Petition to Committee For Later Review.) 

Here’s is AFTRA’s statement from today:

Appoints Committee and Sets Timeline for Delivery of Report

LOS ANGELES (April 24, 2008) — The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists — the national labor union of more than more 70,000 performers, journalists, broadcasters, recording artists, and other talent working in the entertainment and news media — will explore affected member voting as approved by the AFTRA National Board on March 29 in Los Angeles. AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon has appointed a special committee officially charged to study proposals for affected member voting for major AFTRA freelance performer contracts.

“As both a working actor and a union president, I am thrilled that the working performers who brought forward this issue are engaged and providing input to their union,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon. “The suggestions by these AFTRA members to apply affected member voting to other contracts, such as Primetime Dramatic/Exhibit A, were developed by performers in good faith at a grassroots level and deserve thoughtful, timely consideration and responses from the leadership of their union. Whatever the National Board’s final decision on the matter, I welcome and encourage an honest and respectful discussion of this issue.”

AFTRA has always applied affected member voting — the concept of having the members who work under a contract, vote on that contract — for its broadcasters’ contracts, and has also employed this approach to a few contracts covering freelance performers, such as the Interactive and Sound Recordings contracts. The proposals to be reviewed would expand this concept to other major freelance performer contracts.

The Special Committee has been charged to develop and submit a preliminary report and recommendations to the AFTRA Administrative Committee no later than May 23, the date of the Committee’s next scheduled meeting. A final report is to be provided to the AFTRA National Board at its next meeting, scheduled for June 6-7 in Los Angeles, for the Board’s consideration at that time. The Special Committee has also been charged to consult with the leadership of a group of actors who recently initiated a petition calling for affected member voting for major television contracts. That petition now has more than 1,500 signatures.

The Special Committee will be chaired by actors Stephen Collins of Los Angeles and Ed Fry of New York.