AFTRA's less than rosy financial situation will come to a head later this month at its national convention, where delegates are expected to vote on a pair of dues increases for the guild's 77,000 members. Although the guild would not confirm that a dues increase vote is part of the agenda, it is believed that a vote will be taken on whether to increase the current annual dues of $116 by 5 percent twice in the next 15 months.
At a meeting in April, AFTRA's national board voted to recommend to convention delegates that they raise annual dues 5 percent in November and then again in November 2004. At AFTRA's 2001 convention, the board passed a constitutional amendment bestowing convention authority to raise dues, which supplanted a previous membership referendum requirement. But any raise is limited to 5 percent.
"Insofar as the national board and the convention believe that we have been using our resources wisely, we will make some decisions whether we need more resources or not," said AFTRA president John Connolly. "But we need to make sure that we have sufficient resources. We have a huge organizing job in television and a significant non-union sector that we are going after, and that takes resources."
During the failed campaign to consolidate AFTRA with SAG, it was revealed that AFTRA was working with a $2 million deficit. However, as Connolly noted, that 76 percent of AFTRA members supported the consolidation plan—which, had it passed, would have called for a dues increase for members of both guilds—means that AFTRA members are willing to stomach an increase.
AFTRA's national convention runs Aug. 14-16 in Nashville.