Now is the right time to become an American Federation of Musicians member. From ragtime to rap, from the early phonograph to today's digital recordings, the AFM has been there for its members. And now there are more benefits available to AFM members than ever before, including a multi-million dollar pension fund, excellent contract protection, instrument and travelers insurance, work referral programs and access to licensed booking agents to keep you working.

As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.

The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.

Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit www.afm.org/join.

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Convention Delegates Renew Commitment to Legislative and Political Action

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The 100th AFM Convention became the forum for our delegates to organize around legislative and political issues that impact the lives of professional musicians. Delegates to the Convention stepped up in very real, tangible ways, committed to support our goal to keep government focused on the honest treatment of musicians impacted by legislation and regulations that might be harmful, if not kept in check.

Not enough praise can be bestowed upon Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee. The congressman took time on Father’s Day, June 19, to travel to Las Vegas from Mississippi to engage the delegates. He addressed our ongoing immigration battle over delays in P-2 and O-1 visas, filling the delegates in on the work he and his staff are doing with the AFM Office of Government Relations to address this complex issue.

Prior to his appearance at the Convention gala, the congressman met with AFM President Ray Hair and AFM staff to lay the groundwork for congressional action. Thompson was true to his word about resolving this issue as evidenced by ongoing meetings with his congressional staff and exchanges with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administrators.

(L to R) AFM Legislative-Political Director and Diversity Director Alfonso Pollard, Congressman Bennie Thompson, and AFM President Ray Hair.

(L to R) AFM Legislative-Political Director and Diversity Director Alfonso Pollard, Congressman Bennie Thompson, and AFM President Ray Hair.

It should be noted that resolution of this matter will be “a process,” not a quick fix, as his staff establishes a path toward a permanent solution. In his comments to the delegates and to the congressman, AFM President Ray Hair noted, “The AFM has no greater champion on the issue of repairing the broken P-2 visa process than Congressman Bennie Thompson. My long-term relationship with him and my family over decades underscores the fact that he is a man of means and great integrity. Congressman Thompson is very knowledgeable about, and has a wonderful appreciation for, music and the arts, as well as a heart of gold as relates to the plight of professional musicians struggling to earn a living. We welcome a man of his stature and superlative character into our house and pledge to do all within our power to assist him in his endeavor toward a resolution of this difficult issue.” 

A discussion also took place over the importance of locals getting behind HR 1733, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act. Convention delegates were treated to a remarkably lucid presentation by SoundExchange President and CEO Mike Huppe. An independent nonprofit collective management organization,
SoundExchange collects and distributes digital performance royalties to featured artists and copyright holders. Huppe was able to clearly outline the nexus between the importance of a solid royalty stream to artists and the passage of the act. HR 1733 will provide a permanent royalty stream for current day musicians whose sound recordings are performed on AM/FM radio, as well as provide copyright law protection for artists who performed on pre-1972 recordings.

On the political front, special appreciation goes out to the AFM convention delegates, all of whom showed exceptional leadership by joining the AFM Signature TEMPO Campaign. This vital leadership campaign was developed as a platform for AFM officers and members to more actively engage in our legislative-political work. Signature Members participate in group conference calls discussing long- and short-range plans to create a stronger national legislative political base throughout the union. In addition to participation on strategic calls, Signature Members receive special TEMPO marketing tools, along with a monthly copy of The Atlantic Magazine to share with members.

We also thank AFM International Representatives and AFM TEMPO Coordinator Sandra Grier in Washington, DC, for the work they do promoting this special campaign. Convention membership increased exponentially due to their diligent monthly promotion of the campaign. Again, this is not just a fundraising drive but a strategic effort to boost AFM member participation in government affairs.

This year, convention delegates participated in the first AFM TEMPO sweepstakes. It replaced the AFM Convention raffle, giving all participants a chance at winning the grand prize. Winner of the sweepstakes piano was Local 34-627 President Don (Warner) Warmbrodt. Congratulations, Don!

Five TEMPO Achievement Service Awards went to locals that meritoriously participated in TEMPO fundraising over a three-year period between the 2013 and 2016 conventions. AFM Local 257 (Nashville, TN), led by President Dave Pomeroy, had the fifth highest level of contributions. AFM Local 9-535 (Boston, MA), led by President Pat Hollenbeck, achieved the fourth highest level of contributions. Local 47, led by President John Acosta, achieved the third highest level of contributions. AFM Local 161-710 (Washington, DC), led by President Edgardo Malaga, achieved the second highest level of contributions. The highest award went to AFM Local 6 (San Francisco, CA), led by President David Schoenbrun. We congratulate the outstanding work of these locals as we work to find ways to successfully integrate all AFM Locals into the TEMPO program.

New USFWS Rules on African Elephant Ivory

On July 6, 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) placed new rules in effect regarding the African elephant ivory ban that includes positive language for musical instruments. After more than a year, working in cooperation with our national ivory partners (League of American Orchestras, The Recording Academy, Chamber Music, American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, National Association of Music Merchants, and Performing Arts Alliance) we finally accomplished regulatory language that provides a level of comfort for musicians who own musical instruments with de minimis amounts (200g or less) of banned African elephant ivory, particularly musicians who wish to buy, sell, or otherwise trade instruments with de minimis amounts of banned ivory. Helpful new guidance from USFWS in the form of frequently asked questions is found on the website: www.fws.gov/international/travel-and-trade/ivory-ban-questions-and-answers.html, appropriately titled, “What Can I Do with My Ivory.” A more extensive review of these new rules and the AFM’s ongoing efforts to “do no harm” to professional musicians in every musical genre will be posted in the September International Musician.  For additional information contact Alfonso Pollard at apollard@afm.org.





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