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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Secretary-Treasurer

jay blumenthal

Jay Blumenthal – AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

    End of Year Updates

    Voluntary Compliance Program

    Labor law compliance oversight is an important Department of Labor (DOL) responsibility. The magnitude of the task becomes evident if you add up all the locals in all the unions across the US that require oversight. As you can see, the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) has a daunting task of making sure unions are complying with the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). Labor organizations are required to file annual financial Labor-Management (LM) reports within 90 days after the end of their fiscal year. In general, AFM local officers act responsibly, performing this official duty in a timely fashion; however, from time to time some locals are delinquent.

    The AFM participates in a Voluntary Compliance Partnership Program that affords national and/or international unions an opportunity to assist the DOL in obtaining delinquent affiliate reports. Each quarter the AFM receives a list of delinquent locals. We are requested to assist the DOL in getting the report filed or updating local officer contact information so the DOL can contact the officers directly. The AFM and the DOL meet annually to discuss delinquent local reports and share information. Together, over the years we have built a good working relationship.

    LM Reports

    Local officers need to keep in mind that LM reports must now be signed electronically by the local president and local secretary-treasurer. Each report requires two different electronic signatures. Those locals that only have one person serving in both capacities (president and secretary-treasurer) need to have their executive board authorize a second person (usually an executive board member) to also sign the report.

    Remember, you must file your LM report within 90 days after the end of your fiscal year. Filing late is a violation that gets the attention of the DOL and may lead to a DOL audit of your local.

    Bonding

    The AFM purchases an umbrella bonding insurance policy covering AFM locals. Since each local is bonded in differing amounts, please contact Jonathan Ferrone at jferrone@afm.org if you are unsure of the bonding amount the AFM purchased for your local.

    International Musician

    The International Musician survey is now closed. There were 4,254 respondents with many adding additional comments. Thank you to all who took the time to share their thoughts by taking the survey. We are currently analyzing the information we received. In a future issue of the IM, we will share with our readers what we learn from your answers and comments.

    The International Musician Editorial Board (IMEB) meets monthly prior to the publication of each issue in order to determine what content will appear in the magazine. Unsolicited articles that have been submitted to the IMEB editor (cyurco@bentley-hall.com) are considered for publication at IMEB meetings. The IMEB has sole discretion to determine what is published and in which issue an article will appear.

    Additionally, readers of the International Musician have an opportunity to provide feedback about recent articles that have appeared in the publication. When submitting feedback, please adhere to the feedback requirements. All Feedback letters regarding articles printed in the IM must be typed, signed (with name, local, and phone number), and should be no more than 200 words in length. Feedback can be emailed to im@afm.org.

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    AFL-CIO Convention Passes Timely Resolutions

    Once every four years, elected delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention gather to elect the AFL-CIO Officers and Executive Council. Our AFM delegation consisted of AFM President Ray Hair, Local 65-699 (Houston, TX) President Lovie Smith-Wright, and myself. Unfortunately, due to a death in her family, Lovie was unable to attend.

    AFM members from Local 2-197 (St. Louis, MO) entertained the delegates as they filed into the hall to take their seats before AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka banged his gavel bringing the convention to order. Members of the St. Louis local also played for various receptions throughout the convention.

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    Hurricane Aftermath: Please Help Your Union Brothers and Sisters:

    Now that the floodwaters of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have receded and the focus of the press has moved on to other topics, AFM members affected by the storms are beginning to put their lives back together. We all sat horrified as we watched storm surge waters inundate businesses and residential communities, collapse buildings, and float cars and trucks as the hurricanes made landfall and worked their way inland. I can’t remember a time when three category 4 or 5 hurricanes followed so closely on the heels of one another.

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    We Want to Know What You Think

    The AFM mission guides our actions and helps keep us on course. It serves as an important reminder as to why our union exists. Putting our mission into practice improves the lives of all musicians. Therefore, it makes sense that the important voice of our union (the IM) should support our AFM mission when broadcasting our message. When our message is consistent with our mission, it helps us speak with one voice.

    The IMEB has committed itself to making the IM a publication that reflects our membership, which is diverse in many ways. Musical diversity—various genres, instrumentalists, composers, orchestrators, conductors, and copyists all make up our large and beautifully diverse membership. Race, gender, nationality (Canada, US, and Puerto Rico), religious, political, cultural, and workplace diversity play a vital role in our mission. The IMEB believes our monthly publication should reflect this diversity, thereby following our national rule of law and generating interest for all members. By understanding and celebrating our differences, we become a stronger union.

    I am not suggesting that the IM has not celebrated diversity in the past. It has, but the IMEB is now focused on efforts to foster the concept that together “we are the union.” As part of our renewed dedication to building a stronger union, we are surveying the membership about the IM to better understand your likes and dislikes. The survey will ask if you read the paper, and if not, why not. We also want to know what you enjoy reading in the IM and what articles you typically skip. And, of course, we want to know how we can make the IM better by making it more relevant and meaningful to you.

    An important role of the IM is to inform and educate the membership. Often we want to become more involved in the things that directly affect our lives, but don’t know where to begin. Knowing what’s going on is important and is a first step to getting involved and participating in union affairs. A union needs an involved membership if it is to be a functioning, democratic organization that can influence policy and make positive change.

    I truly hope you will take the brief (approximately five-minute) survey when the link is sent via email. The information you provide will help guide future decisions made by the International Musician Editorial Board. If you have not yet done so, please sign up to receive this link (and other valuable AFM news) at the AFM.org home page by submitting your information where it says “Stay Informed.”

    International Musician Survey

    As part of an ongoing effort by the International
    Musician 
    Editorial Board (IMEB) to make the 
    International Musician (IM) a more relevant and interesting read, the IMEB will be surveying the membership about the IM. (For information on survey access, see page 3.) Our goal is to produce a magazine that helps foster our mission. You may be asking, just what is the AFM’s mission? The mission statement can be found by following the link http://www.afm.org/mission-bylaws/.

    Audition Announcements

    An important procedure for placement of orchestra audition ads in the IM requires the officer from the local whose jurisdiction covers the employer to approve the ad submitted by the employer. Sometimes an employer wants to advertise a position opening when, in fact, the opening is disputed by the local. The musician currently holding the position may have a claim under the contract that has not been resolved fully. To avoid undermining the local’s position, the local is called upon to approve the ad before the opening can be advertised in the IM.

    Sometimes local officers do not approve (or reject) ads in a timely fashion. Without local approval, we will not run the ad. The IM has a tight publishing schedule, so local officers responsible for symphonic audition ad approvals should respond as soon as you receive the approval notice. If there is a reason for a delay in returning the notice, please immediately contact IM Classified/Audition Ads Manager Artie Parrilla at classifieds@afm.org and copy IM editor Cherie Yurco at cyurco@afm.org and SSD Director Rochelle Skolnick at rskolnick@afm.org in your email.

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    New Digs for Our AFM West Coast Office

    The AFM maintains our headquarters in the heart of Manhattan’s Times Square (often referred to as the “crossroads of the world” and best known for the ball drop on New Year’s Eve). We also maintain offices in Los Angeles, Toronto, and Washington, DC.

    Recently, our AFM West Coast Office in Los Angeles moved, along with AFM Local 47, to the local’s new office building in Burbank. We previously leased space from Local 47 in their old building and we will continue to lease space in their new building located at 3220 Winona Ave., Burbank, California 91504. While there may be some hiccups during the transition, we are making every effort to keep the workflow moving and the communications open. Currently, 12 employees work in the AFM’s West Coast office.

    Our Canadian office in Toronto has 15 employees (including Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert). This office handles the national Canadian issues for all 10 Canadian provinces and three territories. This can be enormously complex as the labor laws in Canada often differ province to province.

    Our Washington, DC, office coordinates all our legislative activities. AFM Diversity, Legislative and Political Director Alfonso Pollard, our official lobbyist, and Sandra Grier work to promote our legislative agenda, while building relationships with our elected representatives.

    I am often asked why the AFM keeps our headquarters in New York City. After all, NYC is crowded and expensive. Indeed it is, but this is where the labor community is located, not to mention many employers with whom the AFM negotiates. Another exceedingly important reason for staying in NYC is our experienced and valued staff. Any move outside Manhattan would certainly mean losing a number of employees who bring years of experience, knowledge, and understanding of the music business to their work each and every day. Currently, we have 33 employees working in the New York Office, including AFM President Ray Hair and myself.

    For years, we have had the desire to own our headquarters office space, rather than lease. Ownership builds equity and any extra space can be leased to third parties, which will generate revenue for the AFM. While owning an entire office building in Manhattan is beyond our means, purchasing a floor in a building may be possible.

    A few years ago an attempt to purchase a floor in an office building was scuttled because the burden on our cash flow created doubt about our ability to meet all our financial obligations. We just couldn’t swing it. Today, we find ourselves in a somewhat improved financial position. Make no mistake—there are plenty of things that can quickly affect our financial position negatively.

    However, there are good arguments to move forward with a purchase at this time. The lease of our current space will expire January 2019. We will have to move out of our current space regardless of whether we stay in the same building. The landlord has told us that a tenant wants to take over the entire floor, including the space we currently occupy. We would need to move to a different floor, even if we decide to stay in the building.

    Additionally, the rent will go up considerably. Looking at purchase projections versus leasing, the first few years after the purchase things will be very tight financially. This is particularly the case in year one when we will be paying rent for our current space, while the interior construction build-out takes place in the newly purchased space. But as we get into years three through 10, purchasing becomes more advantageous when compared to leasing. Keep in mind, with each year of ownership, our equity in the purchased space grows.

    This may well be the only opportunity we have in the near future to own our space. Interest rates are quite low and a space that meets our needs is available. At this writing, it is far from a done deal. We are still negotiating with the owner. Any purchase will be contingent on presentation, review, and approval by the AFM International Executive Board. I’ll keep you posted as things progress.

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Official Journal of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada