The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) is a labor union of performers, journalists and other artists from the entertainment and news media. Presently, this national labor union has close to 70,000 members.
AFTRA’s members include performers from a wide arena: broadcast, public and cable television (news, drama, soaps, talk shows, documentaries, children’s programming, reality and game shows), radio (news, commercials) sound recordings (CDs, singles), non-broadcast and industrial material as well as internet and digital programming.
AFTRA works for the rights of performers by:
- Negotiating and enforcing agreements that take care of performers’ rights. Over 300 collective bargaining agreements that guarantee minimum salaries, safe working conditions and health/retirement benefits have been put in place by the AFTRA. In cases where disputes with employers are unresolved, AFTRA’s procedures for binding arbitration come into play. On behalf of its members, AFTRA bears the cost of these proceedings.
- Advocating policy issues that affect its members. The AFTRA spreads awareness and supports issues like ownership consolidation in the broadcast industry, equal employment opportunities and copyright issues. AFTRA also represents its members in judicial proceedings, often as amicus, and before the U.S. Copyright Office.
Some of the benefits or programs AFTRA extends to its members are:
- health and retirement plans for members and their dependents.
- access to a series of supplemental benefits, discounts and other programs through groups such as Group Benefits Associates, TEIGIT, UnionPlus/Union Privilege and MusicPro.
- scholarships to members and dependents through the AFTRA Heller Memorial Foundation.
- eligibility for assistance through organizations such as Theatre Authority and the Actors’ Fund.
- scholarship programs and various charitable foundations for the benefit of AFTRA members and/or their dependents sponsored by several AFTRA Locals.
AFTRA is the first union to establish health and retirement plans funded by employers. The health plan provides medical and hospital benefits, a dental plan, prescription drug program, and mental health and substance abuse programs. The Retirement Fund is transferable. Therefore, wherever AFTRA members work-whether on television, radio or newspaper-employer contributions are made on their behalf.