The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) is a national labor union representing over 70,000 performers, journalists and other artists working in the entertainment and news media.
AFTRA's scope of representation covers broadcast, public and cable television (news, sports and weather; drama and comedy, soaps, talk and variety shows, documentaries, children's programming, reality and game shows); radio (news, commercials, hosted programs); sound recordings (CDs, singles, Broadway cast albums, audio books); "non-broadcast" and industrial material as well as Internet and digital programming.
AFTRA's membership includes an array of talent - sound recording membership includes artists who bring pop, rock, country, classical, folk, jazz, comedy, Latin, hip hop, rap and R&B; to the world. AFTRA members perform in television and radio advertising, non-broadcast video, audio books and messaging, and provide their skills for developing technologies such as interactive games and Internet material.
Contract Negotiation and Enforcement
The union negotiates and enforces over 300 collective bargaining agreements that guarantee minimum (but never maximum) salaries, safe working conditions and health and retirement benefits. When the union is unable to resolve disputes with employers, AFTRA contracts include procedures for binding arbitration. The cost of these proceedings is paid by the union.
AFTRA advocates on legislative and public policy issues that directly affect members' wages and working conditions. This includes lobbying and support for such issues as ownership consolidation in the broadcast industry, Equal Employment Opportunity laws and regulations, copyright and performance rights issues, "non-compete" restrictions, OSHA and local safety regulations, and more. AFTRA also represents artists and journalists in judicial proceedings, often as amicus, and before the U.S. Copyright Office.
AFTRA supports the welfare of its members through benefits and programs sponsored or supported by the union. AFTRA was the first industry union to establish employer-paid health and retirement plans for members and their dependents that qualify. The Health Fund provides comprehensive medical and hospital benefits, a dental plan, prescription drug program, and mental health and substance abuse programs. The Retirement Fund is portable, so that wherever members work under an AFTRA contract -- whether on a television or radio program, a sound recording, commercial or industrial show -- employer contributions are made on their behalf. For more detailed information about the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds, visit www.aftrahr.com.
AFTRA membership also provides access to a series of supplemental benefits, discounts and other programs through groups such as Group Benefits Associates, TEIGIT, UnionPlus/Union Privilege and MusicPro.
The AFTRA Foundation, a separate tax-exempt organization funded entirely by voluntary contributions, works in even broader ways to benefit performers and broadcasters and supports the educational and charitable objectives of AFTRA.
Scholarships are available to AFTRA members and dependents through the AFTRA Heller Memorial Foundation. AFTRA members are also eligible for assistance through organizations such as Theatre Authority and the Actors' Fund. In addition, several AFTRA Locals sponsor scholarship programs and various charitable foundations for the benefit of AFTRA members and/or their dependents.
Governance and Administration
AFTRA was founded and governed by members. Each of the Locals around the country elects its own Board of Directors, in addition to electing representatives to the National Board of Directors. Those Local and National Boards set the direction of the organization and establish its policies on the local and national levels respectively. AFTRA also holds a National Convention every two years, and delegates are directly elected on a proportional basis from each Local to represent the membership at the Convention. All Board members and Officers -- both Local and National -- serve without pay. Policies and programs developed by the elected members are implemented and administered by salaried staff at the national and local level.
AFTRA's National President is New York actress Roberta Roberta. Its senior administrator and labor relations professional is National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth.
AFTRA actively supports equal employment opportunities for minorities and women in the broadcast and entertainment industries, and its contracts call for diversity and fairness in hiring practices. AFTRA also protects its members by franchising talent agents who represent performers in its jurisdictions.
AFTRA Local offices offer a wide variety of special programs tailored to the needs of members who live and work in their area. These programs range from publication of talent guides distributed to local producers, agents and casting directors; scheduling of conservatories or seminars which help members improve skills, write resumes and develop audition techniques; opportunities for members to meet casting directors, agents and others who hire talent; and local showcases to highlight new talent to the industry.
- Department for Professional Employees of the AFL-CIO (DPE)
- Associated Actors and Artistes of America (4-A's)
- International Federation of Actors (FIA)
- International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
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