AFTRA votes for Reardon

Topper re-elected to two-year term

AFTRA president Roberta Reardon has been unanimously elected to a two-year term at the performers union’s convention in Philadelphia.

Reardon’s been serving in the slot for the past three months following the departure of John Connolly to head Actors’ Equity. The New York-based thesp began her career performing in daytime dramas and has since appeared in hundreds of commercials, as well as doing TV voiceover work, radio commercials, industrial films and narration.

Nearly 200 delegates formally elected Reardon on Saturday along with re-electing radio host Bob Edwards as national first VP and tapping Los Angeles president Ron Morgan as national second VP. Other national VPs elected by the delegates include Denny Delk, Holter Graham, Dick Kay, Bob Butler, Catherine Brown, Jim Ferguson and Shelby Scott; Matt Kimbrough was elected national treasurer, and Lainie Cooke was tapped as national recording secretary.

AFTRA leaders also voted to obtain a direct national charter from the AFL-CIO and end its indirect affiliation via its membership in the Associated Actors and Artistes of America, which includes the Screen Actors Guild and Actors’ Equity. Showbiz unions with national charters in the AFL-CIO include the Communication Workers of America, IATSE, IBEW and the Writers Guild of America East.

“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.”

The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists spokesman John Hinrichs estimated it would take about three months for the AFL-CIO to approve the move, adding  the step does not mean that AFTRA’s looking to merge with any other union. AFTRA members approved mergers with SAG in 1999 and 2004, but SAG members voted down the combo.

AFTRA also announced it’s added 2,300 members since 2005. The union reps about 70,000 members.

The convention also honored 10 American Scene Award winners for programming that portrays diversity in a positive and realistic light — “Sesame Street,” “American Idol,” “Passions,” WUSA9 news team, ABC7 reporter Harry Porterfield from Chicago; Falcon Picture Group of Chicago; KMOV-TV in St. Louis; Waterfront Soundings Prods. in Oakland; WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh; and the San Francisco Bay Area-based Service Employees Intl. Union-United Healthcare Workers.

Also honored with the George Heller Memorial Gold Card were Janette Gautier, chair of the AFTRA Heller Memorial Scholarship Fund, and former AFTRA Los Angeles Local president Susan Boyd Joyce.

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