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AFTRA, Rooted in Radio, Turns 70

AFTRA is 70.

AFTRA is 70.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists didn’t originally have that ‘T’ in its name.

Here’s how the union describes its history as it noted the birthday.

“In the 1930s, radio was the new media of its day — and performers were struggling to make a living with low wages and poor working conditions. Actors, announcers, singers, and other performers in New York and Los Angeles came together to form the American Federation of Radio Artists on Aug. 16, 1937. Performers in Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, Baltimore, and other cities quickly joined together with AFRA to establish union standards in national, regional, and local radio markets.”

A group of performance unions formed the Television Authority later, and it merged in 1952 with AFRA. “In negotiations with producers, AFTRA members established the Television Network Code, which was the first contract for performers in television. AFTRA contracts also provided the first health and retirement benefits and the first residuals for performers.”

AFTRA posted a timeline of notable events in its history.

The Hollywood Reporter, though, reported this week that “the union’s more than 9,000 recording artists won’t be popping any champagne bottles” because AFTRA’s sound-recordings contract expired June 30 and “talks about a new agreement are going poorly enough to prompt an online protest campaign against major record labels.”