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NBC group decertifies AFTRA

Org's health plan had been causing concerns

Worries over dues and the strength of the health and retirement plans have prompted a group of NBC Network correspondents and staff to decertify AFTRA as their official bargaining agent by a 24-14 margin.

The National Labor Relations Board, which oversaw the decertification election among the 59-person bargaining unit, announced the results Thursday. Three ballots were voided, one was challenged and 17 members didn’t vote.

AFTRA spokesman Chris de Haan said the results would not be certified until next week. He added that the union had attempted to address members’ concerns over the health and retirement plans prior to the election.

Since AFTRA administers hundreds of contracts, it’s not unprecedented for employees to decertify from AFTRA occasionally, including moves last year at WCHS-TV in West Virginia and at KIRO-AM and KTTH-AM in Seattle.

Concerns have surrounded the AFTRA plans — operated jointly by the union and the industry — in recent years. The health plan was forced to hike eligibility and charge premiums for the first time in 2003; the retirement plan sought permission from the IRS in 2003 to extend the period from 15 years to 25 years during which it can amortize its funding shortfall caused by investment losses.

A spokesman for the AFTRA plans has said both operated in the black in 2005. In its most recent report to participants, AFTRA’s health plan said value of its assets was $41.4 million as of November 2004, down $10.3 million from 2003, while value of the retirement plan assets as of November 2004 was $1.65 billion, up $110 million from 2003.

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