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.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE AFM


Secretary-Treasurer

jay blumenthal

Jay Blumenthal – AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

    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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    Union Plus Programs and Department of Professional Employees

    Union Plus

    Unions are all about improving the quality of life for hardworking men and women. The contractual gains enjoyed by bargaining unit members have a direct correlation to the solidarity within the unit. We are strongest and able to achieve maximum results in bargaining when we act together as one. Simply put, collective action translates into better contracts.

    There are many ancillary benefits that come from being a union member. One such benefit is access to Union Plus. In 1986 the AFL-CIO founded a nonprofit organization called Union Privilege. The Union Plus programs harness the collective buying power of 13 million union members and their families offering a variety of exclusive consumer benefit programs. Credit card, mortgage, auto insurance, life insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance are just a few of the programs offered by Union Plus. Participating in some of the programs bring additional benefits such as strike, mortgage, and hospital assistance, as well as credit counseling with a free budget analysis, savings on prescription drugs, and discounts on movie tickets, car rentals, gifts, and flowers.

    A little known benefit is the Union Plus Scholarship Program. Since the program’s inception in 1991, more than 2,800 union families have benefitted from the $4.2 million awarded to students who want to begin or continue their post-secondary education. This year I am pleased to announce that we have an AFM recipient from Local 105 (Spokane, WA). Kristin Joham will be receiving a $1,000 scholarship. She was one of 160 recipients. Congratulations to Kristin! 

    Next year’s scholarship application deadline is 12:00 pm (Eastern Time), January 31, 2018. More information about Union Plus scholarships and other Union Plus programs can be found on the UnionPlus.org website.

    Department for Professional Employees

    In 1977 the AFL-CIO formed the Department for Professional Employees (DPE) to meet the growing needs of professionals who are unionized. The DPE has 23 national union affiliates who represent more than
    4 million professional, technical, and highly skilled workers. Musicians, actors, engineers, teachers, nurses, psychologists, and computer scientists are among those represented. DPE meetings provide a forum “to discuss matters of common concern and coordinate efforts to address them.”

    Under the DPE umbrella is the Arts, Entertainment and Media Industries (AEMI). Entertainment unions that are AEMI affiliates meet regularly in New York City where we discuss issues that impact the entertainment industry such as federal funding for the arts (NEA, NEH, CPB), visas for artists entering the US and/or Canada, legislation that impacts Internet usage, and airline policies for musical instrument carry-on. These issues are important to musicians and AEMI enables the arts and entertainment unions to speak to the federal government with one clear and consistent voice.

    Recently, I attended the DPE General Board and Quadrennial Election meeting in Washington, DC. I feel honored and privileged to have been elected one of the nine general vice presidents who serve on the DPE Executive Committee. I look forward to representing the AFM on the DPE Executive Committee and bringing our issues and concerns to that forum.

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    All Things Symphonic!

    This issue of the International Musician focuses on the symphonic field. Coming from the symphonic world myself, it is always a special issue for me. Symphonic musicians typically perform under collectively bargained local agreements. This has resulted in a field that has excellent union density due to union security clauses found in AFM symphonic contracts.

    While some states have passed “right to work” legislation, most symphonic musicians understand the importance of an AFM contract and remain loyal, strong, and supportive union members. The important contractual gains achieved over many decades, are a testament to musician solidarity. Weathering the previous onslaught of bankruptcies, lockouts, and occasional strikes was made possible by hardworking teams of symphonic musicians represented by their local unions and elected orchestra/negotiating committees, with aid and support from symphonic player conferences and the Federation. 

    While symphonic musicians still face challenging contract negotiations, it appears we have entered a period of relative tranquility. At the time of this writing, there are no ongoing strikes, lockouts, or pending bankruptcies. This is a moment that may allow for some contract rehabilitation for those musicians who were forced to make concessions due to the “great recession.”

    When requested by a local officer (after consultation with the orchestra committee), the Federation will dispatch a Federation negotiator to lead and/or assist with orchestra contract negotiations. Additionally, the Federation provides an annual negotiating orchestra workshop just prior to the ROPA Conference for orchestra negotiating committees and local officers. For those new to collective bargaining or just needing a refresher, this workshop is for you. Some local officers attend annually and always leave the workshop saying they learned something new. 

    The Federation also shares the cost with the local for financial analysis of the orchestra with whom the local will be negotiating. Contact the AFM Symphonic Services Division for details.

    Integrated Media Agreement

    Our national Integrated Media Agreement (IMA) covering live symphonic media work will soon, once again, be renegotiated. (The IMA does not cover work performed in the recording studio, which is covered by SRLA). The multi-employer representative for a growing number of orchestras, Employers’ Media Association (EMA), will be across the table from the Federation. Previous negotiations have been long and arduous but hope springs eternal.

    The crucial recurring battle tends to be over our strong belief that there is added value associated with recorded product and that it is necessary and appropriate to compensate musicians based on this added value. We will not yield in our belief that recorded music must be compensated separately and apart from our live performance wage. The methods of product distribution may have changed (decreased physical product and increased digital steaming), but the additional stress of recording and creating a product that lives on in perpetuity has not changed. It requires appropriate additional compensation for musicians. Musicians have fought for and defended this basic tenet for decades and we will continue to do so.

    I hope you enjoy this special symphonic issue of the IM

    Now Available: AFM 2016 Annual Report

    The 2016 AFM Annual Report is now available on the AFM website. After you log in, click on the Documents Library tab. Then click on the Financial Documents and Annual Report folder. Now click on the 2016 Annual Report PDF. This is a comprehensive report from the AFM officers, legal counsel, auditors, directors, some AFM staff members, and the editor of the International Musician. It also contains the 2016 year-end audit. This annual report is intended to be a retrospective, rather than forward-looking document. Local officers wishing to receive the print version should request a copy from AFM Assistant Secretary Jonathan Ferrone
    (jferrone@afm.org).

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