AFTRA members approve network TV contract


Members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract with the major TV networks. The agreement, reached in December, covers most network programming, except for scripted primetime shows.

The so-called “Netcode” agreement with ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and other producers is officially the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting and is also known as the “Front of the Book.”

AFTRA reported that members passed the agreement 96% in favor. The three-year agreement will run retroactively from November 16, 2011 through November 15, 2014.

The union said it achieved its primary objective in the 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 agreement will increase wages by 6% over the term of the agreement (2% each year) for most categories. It increases 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. The new contract increases 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%. The union said the new agreement 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.

“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.

The Netcode 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, AFTRA noted.