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AFTRA Votes Shelby Scott 4th Term

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(BPI) LOS ANGELES-Shelby Scott has been re-elected to an unprecedented fourth term as national president of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists.

Scott, a Boston-based TV newscaster, was re-elected without opposition Saturday night at the conclusion of AFTRA's 57th annual convention in San Francisco.

Scott would not have been able to seek a fourth two-year term if the convention delegates hadn't previously approved a constitutional amendment that lifted term limits on the presidency.

Looking toward the future, Scott said there are many challenges facing the union, including new technologies in broadcasting and recording, the globalization of the entertainment industry, and the consolidation of the media companies that employ AFTRA members.

"There is another challenge too," she said. "It's a challenge to each and every one of us. It is to expand the number of members who are willing to be active in AFTRA. It is my belief that we have to find ways to get the next generation of AFTRA [members] involved in the union."

Scott was also one of this year's recipients of her union's highest honor, the George Heller Memorial Gold Card, which was presented to her and to former AFTRA Twin Cities President Rich Holter for their "significant contributions to AFTRA and its members."

In other elections, John Connolly defeated Marvin Kaplan in the race for first vp. Longtime incumbent First VP Denny Delk did not seek re-election.

Connolly, an AFTRA national board member from Los Angeles, is now AFTRA's second-highest-ranking elected officer.

In the only other contested election, former New York AFTRA President J.R. Horne defeated current New York AFTRA President Elaine LeGaro in the race for one of several vice president posts. Other vice presidents who won re-election were Susan Boyd, Reed Farrell, Bob Edwards, Belva Davis, and Dave Corey. Jimmie Wright was also elected a vp without opposition.

In other uncontested races, Dick Kay was elected second vp; Mitchell McGuire was re-elected national treasurer and Bernie Alan was re-elected recording secretary.

Delegates to the convention also passed numerous resolutions, including one that pledged AFTRA's "continued cooperation" with the Screen Actors Guild in the wake of the two unions' failed merger attempt earlier this year.

In that vein, the delegates asked the trustees of the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds to propose to the trustees of the SAG Pension & Health Plans that they jointly act to allow "cross-crediting" so that member earnings in one plan can be used in the other to qualify for pension and health benefits.

The delegates also took a stand against runaway production, endorsing proposed legislation in California and in Congress that would grant tax credits to companies that continue to produce their shows in the United States. One such resolution states that the delegates support "all legitimate public, private and legislative efforts to bring back to the U.S. those productions" that have left the country for economic reasons.

Another resolution passed by the convention urged AFTRA members to "play whatever part they can to reduce media violence."

The delegates also expressed "the union's concerns over the lack of diversity" in the networks' fall lineup and instructed AFTRA leaders to meet with network representatives by November to discuss those concerns.

AFTRA's eighth annual American Scene Awards, which are presented by the union's Equal Employment Opportunities Committee, honored several companies that "portray the diversity of the American scene in a realistic and balanced manner."

The top prize, the Crystal Award, went to AchieveGlobal, a division of the Times Mirror Co., in recognition of its production of "The Service Difference," which is part of a series of corporate training films that employ large multi-ethnic casts.

Another diversity award went to the Magic Production Company of Cincinnati for its local program, "What Angels Fear," by Alex P. Michaels.

An honorable mention award was presented to "Bill Nye, the Science Guy" for presenting multiracial men and women in their chosen fields of science.

AFTRA members Ray Bradford and Lois Davis-Stewart received special recognition "for their long and active dedication" to the American Scene Awards "and its objectives."

The delegates, meanwhile, also voted unanimously to issue a nationwide "no contract, no work" order against Black Entertainment Television's "Comic View," a stand-up comedy showcase whose producers have refused to sign AFTRA's contract.

AFTRA national executive director Bruce York told the convention that AFTRA has "bargained 500 cable program contracts in the last four years, putting an additional $30 million in cable earnings into members' pockets." He also noted that "member earnings in the field of sound recordings have grown to over $100 million annually."

David Robb writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

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