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, 2016Sam Folio - former AFM International Secretary-Treasurer
As we welcome the new year, I wanted to make you aware of one case on the US Supreme Court docket that could impact workers across the US in 2016.
Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA) goes to the heart of public sector workers’ ability to unionize and lobby for standards that protect every American. The case focuses on a lawsuit that seeks to destroy public-sector unions by attacking their funding model. Rebecca Friedrichs and nine other nonunion teachers in California are challenging the law that requires them to pay their fair share, via agency fees, of the cost of services that the union is required by law to provide to all workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
Behind the scenes, the Center for Individual Rights, a law firm that has received millions of dollars in funding from conservative foundations, is bankrolling the case. Right-wing operatives, intent on destroying unions and the rights they have won for teachers and other workers, are using this litigation to drive a national policy change to benefit corporate CEOs and wealthy special interests.
The Friedrichs plaintiffs would make unionization harder for everyone by allowing some employees to shirk their fair share of the fees that support negotiations. If they get their way, they will receive the benefits of a union negotiating on their behalf without helping to cover the costs of that work.
The truth is that public service worker unions benefit everyone in the workplace. It is only through the power of negotiating together that we are able to make sure working people earn wages and benefits that support their families, and are able to make improvements to more effectively do their jobs. Through strength in numbers—coming together and speaking with one voice—we all benefit.
The benefits of unions speaking together, especially in the public sector, extend far beyond the workplace. A Supreme Court ruling that goes against the unions could affect public safety standards across the US. First responders—police, firefighters, EMS, and others—won’t be able to negotiate for life-saving equipment and shorter response times. Nurses won’t be able to push for better nurse-to-patient ratios, and likewise, social workers won’t be able to lobby for smaller caseloads. And at the heart of this case, teachers will lose the ability to negotiate for smaller class sizes and improved educational standards. The case could eliminate protections for whistle-blowers who work in food safety or speak out against toxic chemicals polluting our air and water.
I’m personally hoping that when the Supreme Court justices hear this case they keep in mind the protections that have been built through years of organizing, as well as the heroism of our public sector workers.
The loss of millions of dollars in per capita to member unions and the AFL-CIO will affect our union as well. Thinking out of the box as I do from time to time, I can see, if the worst happens, conservatives will try to privatize schools, municipal and state workers, police, fire, hospital services, as well as our symphonies that are state supported. If all were privatized, it would seem that it would present perfect organizing targets. Just saying.