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.
January 1, 2016Ray Hair - AFM International President
Lew Mancini, whose tenure with the Federation began in 1971 as a supervisor in the Booking Agent Department, and who eventually became our highest-ranking employee as chief operating officer (COO), retired from service effective December 31, 2015.
Lew served eight Federation presidents in a variety of ways for more than four decades, and was probably best known to local officers and members as office administrator at our New York Headquarters. As coordinator of the AFM’s triennial International Convention, he was well-loved and respected by thousands of delegates and attendees who participated in scores of conventions during his decades of service.
Universally respected by international officers, field staff, department heads, and staff posted at all Federation offices—New York, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC—for his institutional knowledge, his pride in his work, and his endearing sense of humor, to say that he will be missed is an understatement.
Lew was named AFM’s COO by the International Executive Board in 2010, a position that combined those of executive assistant to the president and assistant secretary into a single office. The move was part of a sweeping administrative revision by a new AFM administration that sought to promote efficiency and reverse years of deficit spending.
In his newly appointed COO role, Lew handled the day-to-day office administration at headquarters; field staff coordination; correspondence with local officers on behalf of the president and secretary-treasurer; national and international bylaw and policy interpretation; cases, claims, charges, and appeals; preparation of IEB meeting dockets and materials; meeting minutes; local compliance matters; local mergers; and Lester Petrillo Fund application review.
During the past five years as your president, there was never a hitch in the immense flow of work that Lew oversaw on our behalf. He was a trusted colleague. His positive attitude, dedication, and devotion to the cause were always over the top.
But the Federation is more than just a group of offices, more than merely the name of a grand, 120-year-old union, or a seal, a bylaw book, or a website. The Federation is also a family of dedicated people who come to work each day and depend on each other for support when making difficult decisions affecting the lives of thousands of talented professional musicians. That’s why the backstory in Lew’s life and his decision to retire—too early in the view of many—deserves mention in this column.
If you knew Lew Mancini, you know how hard he worked and how much he cared about every aspect of our union, and you also know his grasp of the Federation’s business with the various industry employers and agents on the one hand, and with our locals and members on the other. You could see the results. Lew wasn’t just a talented member of Local 248 (Patterson, NJ) who fell out of the old Corvette in front of Federation headquarters 44 years ago. He was a man who cared about his family. And in more ways than one, the Federation was his family.
During his high school days, as fate would have it, Lew took a strong liking to Laura Crothers, the daughter of Bob and Maxine Crothers. Now, Bob Crothers, you see, just happened to be executive assistant to then AFM President Hal Davis. Bob, who retired in 1986, had also served as head of the AFM’s (then-named) Recording Department, going all the way back to President Petrillo. Laura and Lew have been happily married for 43 years, and for a number of those recent years, Laura served as Lew’s assistant at our headquarters office.
I knew Bob Crothers and Lew Mancini from my days as a full-time professional musician, filing and collecting claims through the AFM against employers, booking agents, and record companies. It became clear to me as a young local officer that Lew’s skill and determination in serving AFM members was more than just a job. It was a deep-rooted family tradition with tutoring up-close and personal from historical pioneers like Crothers, who knew the drill and how to get the job done. Lew and Laura were a pair. They were well-suited to serve, and to serve together. We all benefited.
Having left an inspirational legacy of service to our union that will continue to make a difference for many years to come, Laura and Lew have embarked on a new journey.
In the meantime, we have filled Lew’s shoes with the outstanding talents of Assistant to the President Ken Shirk, who will stand-in temporarily to administer COO matters and also serve as our convention coordinator, together with Electronic Media Services Division Director Pat Varriale.
We wish Lew and Laura Mancini the very best in retirement. On behalf of our international officers, staff, and entire membership, I extend our most heartfelt thanks for all that they have done in service to this great union throughout their entire lives. You will be forever missed, and never forgotten.
To Lew and Laura, in Lew’s own words, “Be well.”