LOS ANGELES (Feb. 22, 2012) — 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 approved an 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.”
AFTRA Members passed the agreement 96% in favor, achieving 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%. The three-year agreement will run retroactively 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 prohibit discrimination based on a member’s gender identity.
“I am proud our members overwhelmingly voted in favor of this hard-fought contract. Our negotiating committee of rehearsal and background actors, promo announcers, freelance newspersons, stunt performers, singers, dancers and, of course, actors, worked tirelessly to secure increased wages, improved working conditions, and stronger protections for AFTRA members in all categories and across all program formats who work under our largest contract,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon.
Negotiations began on Nov. 7, and were held at the offices of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in Sherman Oaks, Calif. A tentative agreement was reached on Dec. 9, 2011.
The AFTRA National Board unanimously approved the agreement on Jan. 28, 2012 and sent it out to the membership for ratification. Ballots were mailed to members on Jan. 30 and were returned Feb. 22.
AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth served as Chief Negotiator for the Union, and was assisted by 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, sports, contest programs, award shows 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,” “Jeopardy,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Voice,” “Amazing Race,” “Deal or No Deal,” “The Tonight Show” and “American Idol,” among many others.