TV, radio artists to vote on new pact with networks

LOS ANGELES - The governing board of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) will vote Jan. 28 on a new 3-year pact that union negotiators reached with four of the nation's television networks, the union announced on Dec. 9.  Assuming board approval, AFTRA members will then vote on it.

The contract covers performers, recording artists and other broadcast professionals who work for ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, said union President Roberta Reardon, the bargaining committee chair.  The proposed pact is retroactive to Nov. 16.

It covers workers who toil on the networks' daytime programming, talk shows, morning news shows, soap operas, variety, reality, contest and sports shows, and promotions.   It's worth a total of $250 million to the workers, Reardon said.

The union said it gained its top objective: A 1 percent increase in employer contributions to the health and retirement funds, thus raising the employer share to 16.5 percent.  The contract also includes 2 percent yearly raises, raises in minimum hazard pay, an earlier start for overtime pay for singers - starting at their seventh hour of work, not after their ninth - and large increases in the minimum daily rates for stand-ins.

There is also "improved contract language to increase equal employment opportunities for union performers, including an agreement to prohibit discrimination based on a member's gender identity," the union said.

"Our negotiating committee of rehearsal and background actors, promo announcers, freelance newspersons, stunt performers, singers, dancers and actors" delivered "an agreement that guarantees increases and improvements for all union members who work, or who will work, under this contract," Reardon said.

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