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.
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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, 2021Alfonso Pollard - AFM Legislative, Political, and Diversity Director
A new coalition was formed within the AFM to fight for pension reform that was passed in the budget reconciliation package voted out of committee on February 11.
After three years of pension debate in both the House and Senate—only to have the Butch Lewis Act stalled in the higher chamber—new legislation was introduced in the 117th Congress to finally move this issue forward and eventually to President Biden’s desk. To help make this a reality, the AFM National Legislative Office has partnered with player conference chairs, AFM organizing staff, and our public relations office to extend our reach out to AFM members and to members of the relevant Congressional committees in Washington, DC.
At the onset of the new Congress, the Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 (HR 423) was introduced in both the House Committee on Education and Labor (Rep. Bobby Scott, D-VA, chair) and in the House Ways and Means Committee (Rep. Richard Neal, D-MA, chair) as a refresher for returning members and as a primer for new members. HR 423 and HR 409 (also providing relief for multiemployer and single employer pension plans) both served as a focal point to kickstart the discussion about the importance of multiemployer pension plans and why their content is important to working Americans, especially those of us in the AFM.
It was at that point that AFM conferences, including the International Conference of Symphony and Orchestra Musicians (ICSOM) led by Meredith Snow, the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) led by John Michael Smith, and the Recording Musicians Association (RMA) led by Marc Sazer, and Theater Musicians Association (TMA) President Tony D’Amico, expressed the importance of solidarity, getting their constituencies involved in the lobbying effort.
With regular briefings from the AFM National Legislative Office on the progress of events in Washington, the coalition launched a multi-layered campaign—spearheaded by AFM Organizing and Education Division Director Michael Manley and AFM Lead Organizer Alex Tindal Wiesendanger—that netted phenomenal results as of this writing. With the expert help of AFM Director of Communications Antoinette Follett, we quickly engaged in a letter-writing campaign to the Hill, an email blast campaign organized by President Ray Hair, an advocacy e-blast request from yours truly, and a Zoom phone bank program that quickly netted more than 85 volunteers.
The political debate and vote occurred Thursday, February 11. By a vote of 24 to 18, the House Ways and Means Committee passed the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act pension legislation and then voted to transmit it with all appropriate documentation to the House Budget Committee for incorporation into the reconciliation package. With these actions, the AFM completed a successfully effective campaign that helped our voices echo throughout the halls of Congress.
This is simply the start of a long process that will require similar organizing when the US Senate takes up the legislation, but with this great early lead we will be prepared to meet the challenge.
Please watch for further communications from the AFM Legislative Department on how we as AFM members can amplify our voices on Capitol Hill.