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.
December 1, 2022IM -
From Amazon to Starbucks to musical workplaces, the ingredients of a labor campaign are universal. This year saw inspiring wins at two major—and notoriously anti-union—corporations, and workers triumphed.
Though the midterm elections ushered in a divided federal government, the administration will continue to turn its attention to the federal agencies to achieve its labor and employment agenda. “Unions are always on the frontlines of democracy struggles,” says AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “It should be no surprise that up and down the ballot—and in critical secretary of state races—union members stopped candidates who were 2020 election deniers and ran with the intention of ignoring the will of the people.”
AFM Agreements Offered Relief During Pandemic
Musicians employed under the AFM’s Motion Picture Film and Television Agreements ratified a one-year extension for provisions of existing agreements, with a 3% wage increase. By the start of 2022, the symphonic sector had recovered 80% of pre-pandemic levels. Twenty-one musicals were back on tour, nearly in line with pre-pandemic employment.
Producers in the film industry tried to turn a temporary COVID remote recording solution into a permanent one that was favorable for them but would have resulted in job loss for musicians. In the future, if successive pandemic waves disrupt production in the live entertainment sector and requests are made for pandemic-related work rule relief, care must be taken that the temporary measures do not become precedent for permanent regressive change.
American Music Fairness Act
The AFM cranked up the volume on fair pay for radio play. Congress moved a step closer with the introduction of the Senate’s companion bill of the American Music Fairness Act, which would ensure a performance right for sound recordings. Ken Casey (January IM feature), frontman for the Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA), lent his voice to the cause for musicians and working people.
102nd AFM Convention Rescheduled for 2023
Following the adoption of a Special Resolution by the AFM International Executive Board (IEB) on January 20, it was determined that holding the 102nd Convention in June 2022 in Las Vegas was impossible. Due to continuing pandemic uncertainty, COVID protocols and governmental restrictions, and challenges of COVID-related international travel, the IEB rescheduled the convention for June 2023.
American Music Fairness Act Judiciary Hearing Testimony
February 2, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), held a hearing on the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA). Co-sponsored by Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA), AMFA is vigorously endorsed and supported by the AFM.
Among the artists and advocates invited to testify at the hearing was AFM IEB member and Local 257 (Nashville, TN) President David Pomeroy. An archived stream of the Judiciary Committee Hearing can be accessed at https://bit.ly/AMFA-Judiciary-Hearing.
American Rescue Plan Act to Provide Special Financial Assistance for AFM-EP Fund
After an all-out lobbying effort by US labor unions, the Federation, and the AFM-EP Fund to mobilize rank-and-file union members and fund participants, Congress passed and President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). ARPA allows eligible multi-employer plans, like the AFM-EP Fund, to obtain direct financial assistance from the federal government in the form of a grant that does not have to be repaid. The law appropriates assets from the general fund of the US Treasury to pay for the program.
The amount of financial assistance is based on the AFM-EP plan’s financial status on the last day of the calendar quarter immediately preceding the application date. We anticipate a substantial amount of assistance that will protect the fund from insolvency for years to come. Looking ahead in the new year, fund trustees are working to develop informational, educational communications for participants, in order to promote better understanding of the fund and its benefits.
Remembering Eugene Tournour
The AFM remembered longtime AFM international representative and labor activist Eugene Tournour, who passed away peacefully on January 6. In the early 1960s, Tournour, a regional representative for the Congress of Racial Equity, was instrumental in the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, DC, and worked with Dr. Martin Luther King to unite the southern and northern civil rights movements to lead a coalition of marches in the Chicago Freedom Movement.
MOSAS Continue Strike Amid Broken Negotiations
For the first time since going on strike in September 2021, musicians of the San Antonio Symphony performed concerts. The Local 23 (San Antonio, TX) MOSAS (Musicians of San Antonio Symphony) Performance Fund gave musicians of the San Antonio Symphony an opportunity to perform and be compensated.
As of the last bargaining session March 8, the board and management were demanding significant reductions. The musicians, members of Local 23, went on strike September 27 in response to management’s imposed contract that reduced the number of full-time musicians (from 72 to 50) and cut the base minimum salary for the remaining musicians from $35,700 to $24,000.
Protests Highlight Theater Contract Breach
Local 72-147 (Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX) members called out Casa Mañana theater with a leafleting campaign before the mainstage production of Matilda: the Musical. The show had been integrated into the Casa Mañana Broadway Series, replacing musicians with prerecorded tracks—a violation of the collective bargaining agreement that accompanies Broadway. Other unions took notice. Casa Mañana was also in violation with the Actors’ Equity Association and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.
AFM Orchestras Express Support for Musicians of Ukraine
Orchestras across the country organized events to raise awareness and money to help the people of Ukraine. Metropolitan Opera, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra held benefit concerts. Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and Pacific Symphony dedicated concerts to the people of Ukraine. The Ukrainian national anthem sounded across the country from orchestras in San Diego, Utah, Phoenix, Detroit, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Baltimore, and Syracuse’s Symphoria, among others.
MPTF Funds Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) Events
In a sign that live music is back in 2022, the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) and AFM locals around the country coordinated 260 free concerts in April to celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month. From festivals to small venues, musicians kicked off a fresh season of great jazz.
Historic Court Confirmation and Rise in Union Elections
The AFM applauded the Biden administration’s nomination and confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court.
Union election petitions increased 57% in the first half of 2022. There was a surge in labor activity nationwide, with workers organizing and filing more petitions for union elections than in the last 10 years. An Amazon facility on Staten Island, New York, voted to become the company’s first unionized US workplace in an upset that would be one of organized labor’s biggest victories in decades. Starbucks baristas added wins to union elections as two Starbucks stores in the Boston area became the first locations to unionize in the state.
National Public Television Agreement Ratified
A new three-year deal with public television ratified on May 26 includes wage increases, a boost in health and welfare contributions, and improved new media provisions. Explicit language guarantees that projects made by signatory public television producers for internet distribution will require AFM contracts, wages, and benefits, and increased Health & Welfare contributions.
In Memoriam: Pat Varriale
The AFM lost a stalwart staff member and friend, Electronic Media Services Division Director Patrick Varriale, in a tragic accident on May 13. In his 50 years negotiating recording agreements, Varriale ensured musicians were paid fairly. While he was highly regarded for his advocacy, those closest to him remember a genial colleague who never failed to recognize the work of others.
Leading Musicians Launch Black Orchestral Network
Members of more than 40 orchestras launched the Black Orchestral Network, a collective of Black orchestral musicians dedicated to creating an inclusive and equitable environment for Black people in the orchestral field. The AFM as well as the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) and Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) player conferences embraced the group’s vision to stand in solidarity with Black members by honoring the values of fair workplaces and addressing barriers to fair and equitable audition and tenure practices.
Musicians Rally Outside Carnegie Hall
On June 6, Local 802 (New York City) musicians staged a rally with live music outside Carnegie Hall. Musicians have been fighting for a fair contract with Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY). The company locked out musicians and refused to offer union wages, health insurance, and retirement contributions.
Honoring the new Juneteenth federal holiday, the MPTF provided 100% funding for musicians to perform at Juneteenth celebrations across the country. Notably, musicians of Local 65-699 (Houston, TX) performed at events sponsored by the Legacy Project in Galveston, Texas, the birthplace of Juneteenth.
Pamphlet B & Short Engagement Tour Agreements Ratified
The Federation completed discussions with representatives of the Broadway League and Disney Theatrical Productions for an extension of the Pamphlet B and Short Engagement Touring (SET) Theatrical Musicals agreement, which includes a 3% wage increase retroactive to April 25, 2022. The extension was promptly ratified and approved by musicians currently working under the agreements. All terms of the existing agreements are preserved and continued through August 2023. During the summer of 2023, negotiations will commence for successor Pamphlet B and SET agreements.
The National Labor Relations Board signed off on a joint compliance stipulation resolving nearly eight years of litigation between the AFM and the Colorado Symphony Association (CSA). The agreement benefits 204 musicians and requires the CSA to pay over $1.4 million in back pay, benefits, compound interest, and compensation to musicians for adverse tax consequences.
Symphonic Conferences Host In-Person Meetings
Moving forward in a post-pandemic world, the symphonic player conferences all held in-person meetings this year. Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA) Conference was held in Orange County, California, July 26-28. The Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) Conference was held August 8-12, in Regina, Saskatchewan. And the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) celebrated its 60th anniversary hosted by musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony and Local 56 (Grand Rapids, MI), August 24-27 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
FMSMF Hits Record
The Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (FMSMF) hit a record in residuals collected for musicians in 2022. Established in the AFM’s Theatrical and Basic Television agreements, the residuals have been collected since the 1970s. Over the last 10 years, the fund has grown from $83 million in FY 2012 to $130 million in FY 2022.
MPTF Supports Labor Day & Scholarships
On Labor Day, the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) sponsored over 220 events in the US and Canada. Additionally, the MPTF announced that Music Family and Music’s Future scholarships of more than $165,000 were awarded to 120 students studying at colleges and universities across the US and Canada. The MPTF scholarship fund was established in June 2020 to help AFM member families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
AMFA Introduced in the Senate
On September 22, Congress moved a step closer to ending a decades-long injustice against music creators with the Senate introduction of S. 4932, American Music Fairness Act (AMFA), sponsored by Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Alex Padilla (D-CA). This is a critical piece of legislation for professional musicians whose music is played on AM/FM broadcast radio with no compensation to the creators. The United States is the only industrialized nation besides North Korea and Iran that has no law requiring a broadcast performance royalty for sound recordings to be paid to artists, musicians, and singers.
October IM Feature Story: San Antonio Philharmonic Rises
The board’s decision to dissolve the San Antonio Symphony and file for chapter 7 bankruptcy in June made the city of 1.5 million the largest American city without a major orchestra. Local 23 (San Antonio, TX) symphony musicians regrouped as the San Antonio Philharmonic (SAPhil). Their season began September 16, performing at the First Baptist Church. “It’s a new organization, [but an] old orchestra,” says SAPhil Board President and bassoonist Brian Petkovich. “We’re really excited to keep our ensemble together from the San Antonio Symphony and move forward together.”
National Arts and Humanities Month
President Biden designated October 2022 as National Arts and Humanities Month—and in an accompanying executive order, the administration reestablished the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Union members had their sights on the Senate for arts funding. The Department of Professional Employees’ Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry (AEMI) coordinating committee, including the AFM, led a charge on Capitol Hill to secure full funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.
MPTF Funding Brings Out Musicians
Backed by the MPTF, the Curtains Up! Broadway Festival brought live performances to the streets with a three-day Broadway-themed event September 30-October 2. Local 72-147 (Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX) collaborated with MPTF, local businesses, and other donors for the return of the popular Denton Arts & Jazz Festival October 7-9 in North Texas.
Theatre Division Focus Issue
The Touring/Theatre/Booking Division reported an ambitious 2023 Broadway touring season, the AFM and the Broadway League extended agreements, including an across-the-board wage increase. The Theatre Musicians Association (TMA) continues to establish chapters nationwide.
Emergency Relief Fund
In the wake of the destruction caused by hurricanes Fiona and Ian, the AFM offered assistance to members through its Emergency Relief Fund.
Midterm Election Results
Democrats retained control of the Senate while Republicans will control the House. Nationally, union members made up an estimated 11% of the electorate and union households 18%. A strong performance of labor-endorsed candidates was fueled by grassroots activism by union volunteers.