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Hessinger signs 4-yr. deal as AFTRA director

National board also supports new contract proposal

The ruling board of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists has signed national exec director Greg Hessinger to a four-year pact.

Terms of the contract, announced at AFTRA’s 58th national convention in St. Paul, Minn., were not disclosed. Hessinger was elevated a year ago from his post as associate national exec director to succeed longtime chief Bruce York, who departed to work for the airline pilots union.

“I am very appreciative of this opportunity, and I’m very thankful to the great staff,” Hessinger said. He listed organizing new members and markets and elevating the profile of actors as the key challenges facing the 80,000-member org.

Contract proposal OK’d

The national board, which numbers about 100, also endorsed a contract proposal developed by AFTRA’s wages and working conditions panels for its “network code” contract, which expires Nov. 15 and covers most TV work beyond primetime network series programming that falls under the recently negotiated Screen Actors Guild/AFTRA film-TV agreement.

The board voted to keep details of the proposal confidential. Hessinger said AFTRA will be seeking “significant improvements” in residuals, much as SAG and AFTRA sought in the film-TV pact, which included key gains in basic cable, Fox Network payments and foreign TV.

Hessinger also said the proposal includes advances in the new technologies sector, but did not elaborate.

Talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers are slated to start Oct. 16 in Los Angeles, with the location at either AFTRA Los Angeles headquarters in Hollywood or the AMPTP headquarters in Encino.

Hessinger said a final choice has not been made, although an AFTRA official said several weeks ago that talks would take place at branch headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard, marking the first time the network code negotiations have been held on the union’s turf.

The talks then will shift a week later to ABC headquarters in Gotham.

The “net code” pact generates about $400 million annually and covers broadcasters, daytime soap actors, talkshow and gameshow hosts, sports announcers and performers on syndicated entertainment shows.

AFTRA’s current three-year pact provided a 3% increase in daily pay rates during the first year of the contract and 3.5% increases in each of the second and third years.

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