AFTRA Argues Budget Story

"AFTRA's Locals Cause Union's Budget Bulge" (Back Stage, Aug. 15) paints a somewhat inaccurate picture of AFTRA's finances and could lead one to draw an incorrect conclusion: that the funding of locals creates a "drain" on AFTRA, thereby exacerbating current financial pressures.

The article misrepresents a basic structural change implemented by the union several years ago. In 2000, AFTRA converted from a locally based dues collection system to one in which all dues are collected nationally. Therefore, prior to May 1, 2000, AFTRA National's financial reports included (as revenue) only the per capita portion of members' dues received from the locals; each local's report included total amount collected from its members. Subsequent reports reflecting the 2000-01 fiscal year forward included total dues and fees from members as revenue, and the total amount returned to locals as expenses. AFTRA's 2000 LM2 reported $9.8 million in revenues and $10.2 million in expenses; in 2001, the report cites $24.2 million in revenue and $23 million in expenses. What appears to be a "quantum leap" is in fact nothing more than an administrative adjustment.

Mr. Armbrust, the article's author, appears to link this structural change to the dues and initiation increases recently approved by the AFTRA Board and Convention. Nothing could be further from the truth. National Executive Director Greg Hessinger linked the increases to the "union's eliminate existing deficits and ensure long-term growth, to vigorously represent our members, organize new members, develop initiatives that benefit our members and strengthen our national organization."

Terry Walker

National Director, Administration