Reardon wins full AFTRA term

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Roberta Reardon, a New York-based TV, commercials and voice actor, has been elected to a full two-year term as president of AFTRA.

Reardon, who was elected by unanimous acclamation Saturday at the 70,000-member union's biennial convention in Philadelphia, had been selected by AFTRA's national board in April to complete the remainder of the term of John Connolly, now executive director of Actors' Equity.

"I am humbled to be elected as AFTRA national president," Reardon said. "I am also excited to be able to move together into future with all of you to improve the lives of AFTRA members."

National first vp Bob Edwards, a satellite radio host from Washington, D.C., was re-elected to his post. Los Angeles actor Ron Morgan, previously vp, was elected national second vp.

New national vps include San Francisco actor Denny Delk, New York actor Holter Graham, former Chicago news broadcaster Dick Kay, San Francisco broadcaster Bob Bulter, Philadelphia TV news producer Catherine Brown, Nashville singer Jim Ferguson and former Boston TV journalist Shelby Scott.

Los Angeles actor Matt Kimbrough was elected national treasurer, and New York actor Lainie Cooke national recording secretary.

All officers were elected to two-year terms.

Also at the convention, delegates voted by a 91% margin for AFTRA to secure a direct national charter from the AFL-CIO. The union has had an indirect affiliation with the AFL-CIO through the Associated Actors and Artistes of America.

"As we look at the 21st century media industry, we see that significant parts of our membership can be more fully served by direct affiliation with the AFL- CIO," Reardon said. "This is a move that honors AFTRA's diverse jurisdictions covering performers, broadcasters and recording artists. With our own seat at the table of labor, AFTRA can begin to explore the many opportunities for strategic alliances with other media unions that are not part of the 4As."

AFTRA will continue to maintain "cooperative working relationships with the 4As and its member guilds, including joint negotiating agreements with (SAG)," officials said.

Among other convention moves, delegates stated support of "meaningful national health-care reform" and agreed on a set of "diversity principles" for AFTRA membership and leadership.

AFTRA membership has grown by 2,300 members since 2005, AFTRA national executive director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth said.

"AFTRA has turned around a slide in membership that began at the turn of the century," Hedgpeth said. "Active organizing and legislative efforts designed to keep work both union and made in America -- combined with the growth of TV program formats such as reality, variety, contests as well as AFTRA's original areas of dramatic programming -- has caused AFTRA to grow."

AFTRA is two-thirds comprised of actors and performers, with the balance of its membership comprised of broadcasters and recording artists. The union currently is in negotiations on a new sound-recordings contract.

Delegates selected Chicago to host the union's 62nd national convention in summer 2009.
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