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.
March 1, 2019Alan Willaert - AFM Vice President from Canada
I have been advised that long-time employer trustee and chair of the Musicians’ Pension Fund of Canada, Stanley J. Shortt, has retired from the board of trustees for personal reasons. A former senior executive whose corporate associations had included Eaton’s, Simpson’s, HBC, the TSO, and the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts, Shortt was an integral part of the team for almost 30 years and was always committed to serve in the best interests of the membership.
The fund was very fortunate to be able to maintain the vast knowledge and experience of former Executive Director Ellen Versteeg-Lytwyn who has agreed to fill the vacancy left by Shortt, both as a trustee and as chair. Versteeg-Lytwyn began working at the fund in 1972. She has an unequaled grasp of the fund’s history, how it functions, and where it should be headed in order to continue as one of the most important benefits of AFM membership. She was recently quoted as saying, “I am proud to be a Canadian and a part of this fund that is able to provide such wonderful benefits to our Canadian musicians.”
I first met Versteeg-Lytwyn at the 1985 Canadian Conference in Hamilton, Ontario, immediately after her report on the state of what was then the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Welfare Fund (AFM-EPW). It was respect at first sight and my inaugural view of the overwhelming importance of our pension through the eyes of someone who understood every aspect and nuance of it, as well as similar funds around the world. I am absolutely elated by the news she will be chair and that we may continue to mine her Marianas Trench-like cache of knowledge.
Late on February 7, after two rounds of bargaining at the CBC Broadcast Centre on Front Street in Toronto, a deal in principle was reached between the CFM and the CBC. Highlights of the agreement include a 6% increase in fees over four years, with an additional 1.5% effective immediately (7.5% total) and improvements to theme music sessions in work time and overtime. A licensing formula was established to allow the wonderful music archives of the CBC to see the light of day, and CBC content released to streaming services was clarified to be subject to 7.5% of distributor’s gross revenue (DGR) to be shared by the contracted members.
I would like to express my deepest appreciation for the hard work and commitment of our team, which included Local 145 (Vancouver, BC) Secretary Dusty Kelly, Local 149 (Toronto, ON) Executive Director Michael Murray, Local 180 (Ottawa, ON) Secretary-Treasurer Robin Moir, Local 390 (Edmonton, AB) President Eddy Bayens, Local 406 (Montreal, PQ) President Luc Fortin, Local 547 (Calgary, AB) Secretary-Treasurer Doug Kuss, Local 571 (Halifax, NS) Secretary-Treasurer Varun Vyas, and AFM International Executive Board Member Tino Gagliardi. We were also fortunate to have real-world input from two working members, Robbie Grunwald and Terrence Lo, of Local 149.
Special thanks go to CFM Director of Administration Susan Whitfield who acted as our scribe and communicator, as well as emergency therapist for the sometimes high levels of stress. Her organizational skills are off the chart, allowing the others to be at their best.
At the end of February, we are back in negotiations—another round with the Canadian Media Producers’ Association (CMPA). While the upcoming bargaining of agreements with these entities is slow and emotionally taxing, the endgame is most important: securing appropriate fees and benefits for our members, under contract. It’s the right thing to do.