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AFL-CIO forms showbiz panel

Unions request Industry Coordinating Committee

The AFL-CIO, rocked this summer by the defection of seven major unions, announced Thursday that its executive council has approved formation of a panel consisting of the key showbiz unions.

The labor confederation said it had acted on a request by 10 unions to create a new Industry Coordinating Committee with the aim of building more power for workers in the face of “rapid media consolidation and massive technological shifts.”

Goal is for those unions to work together to devise joint organizing and collective-bargaining strategies in conjunction with their longstanding collaboration on legislation and public policy, according to Paul Almeida, president of the federation’s department for professional employees.

Creation of the panel must be approved by the leadership groups of each of the 10 individual unions, repping about 1 million employees. They are Actors’ Equity Assn., the American Federation of Musicians, American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, Communications Workers of America, Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Intl. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Natl. Assn. of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, Screen Actors Guild, the Newspaper Guild and Writers Guild of America East.

“Those professionals who work in the arts, entertainment, media and telecommunications industries need a strong, united effort to address their issues in the face of ownership consolidation and unprecedented changes — and today, they’re one big step closer to winning more power,” said AFL-CIO president John Sweeney. “The AFL-CIO is 100% committed to supporting efforts to help the millions of workers in these industries improve their lives through unions.”

The well-publicized split within the federation came in July, led by the Service Employees Intl. Union, hotel and garment workers, grocery workers and the Teamsters. Those unions wanted to focus on expanding jurisdiction rather than the AFL-CIO’s emphasis on funding political campaigns.

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