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Home » Officer Columns » A Time to Reminisce

A Time to Reminisce

  -  AFM International Vice President

It’s all winding down for me. I’m honored to have had nearly 25 years as an officer in the AFM, two years as board member of Local 99 (Portland, OR), and 21 years as its president. And for the last 13 years, I’ve also been the AFM international vice president. That’s in addition to the 25 years I spent as a professional musician. When I could no longer perform due to injury, I found myself in a union leadership role. Basically, my adult working life has been split by working both sides of the fence, and what a ride it’s been.

There has been much reliving of those years recently, starting with cleaning out my office at the local. As I went through all the files to decide what to keep and what to recycle, I was reminded of all the work that’s been done in our union during my tenure as an officer. It was easy for me to keep moving from one campaign or negotiation to the next, barely taking any time to celebrate the successes, or lick the wounds of a loss, because the next challenge was already knocking on my door.

Among the many activities that I’ve successfully spearheaded or participated in at Local 99, the highlights include:

  • Winning the fight against the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) to allow minor musicians to continue to perform in clubs
  • Working with the OLCC to create all-age venue opportunities that still allowed for alcohol sales to adults
  • Winning the battle against the “bad” Federal Communication Commissioners who wanted to further deregulate the media landscape, which would have allowed for one company to own three TV stations, eight radio stations, a daily newspaper, and a cable company and be the internet service provider, all in a city the size of Portland, Oregon.
  • Coming out of the above win, we participated in the creation of a radio station, focused on playing local music
  • Created Fair Trade Music, a significant campaign that continues to live in different forms and levels of success throughout the AFM
  • Successfully negotiated more contracts than I can remember and added two new bargaining units in the theater world
  • Served the labor and local communities by sitting on the general and executive boards of the AFL-CIO, MetroEast Community Media, Jobs with Justice, and the Music Education Assistance Project
  • At the Federation, I’ve been equally active. Much of that work was on top of the above work, with the highlights being:
  • Participated in most of the negotiations with film companies, networks, and record labels as well as for touring Broadway shows and commercial announcements, some of which created results that were life-altering for the AFM, such as funding the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF).
  • Represented the AFM at International Federation of Musicians conferences in Los Angeles; Reykjavík, Iceland; and Copenhagen, Denmark, participating in panel discussions in both LA and Copenhagen.
  • Chaired the Officer Education Committee, as recreated by AFM President Ray Hair, which provided annual training prior to each of the five regional conferences and two organizing trainings each year at the Tommy Douglas Center in Maryland. I am especially proud that an outcome of this training, in my opinion, was that in 2019 (immediately prior to COVID) the AFM experienced its first annual growth in membership in many years.

There are so many people to thank, including those who “tricked” me into this work. (You know who you are.) I could have never imagined how this would play out, nor the important part it has played in my life and the great people I have met and worked with. I also want to especially thank President Hair and all the people at the Federation for the support, encouragement, and comradery I felt as we took on one challenge after another in my time as international vice president.

Lastly, as we look forward to a new Federation administration, I wish you all the success in the world, and hope that you can build upon the work we’ve done. When this administration was elected, the AFM was in tough shape, but we are leaving it in very good shape.

Thank you all!

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