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.
March 1, 2017Alfonso Pollard - AFM Legislative, Political, and Diversity Director
On March 6, 2015, new regulations relating to musical instruments as carry-on baggage went into effect thanks to the work of our national carry-on coalition. Talks with the Secretary of Transportation, led by AFM International President Ray Hair, helped develop and implement new carry-on rules that brought consistency to major and regional US air carriers, along with new tips for traveling musicians. Since the promulgation of these new rules, incidences of the rejection of instruments by gate attendants, flight attendants, and pilots have all but disappeared.
Now two new issues are being discussed within our musical instrument coalition. A few airlines have instituted new economy services, which affect changes in carry-on rules. In some cases, the change includes fees for carry-on baggage.
Because there is no universal change in policy across all airlines, when booking travel, musicians are encouraged to ask air carrier ticket agents about any new carry-on fees. These fees add to the overall cost of travel, and if you are on a travel budget or being reimbursed for travel, you will want your sponsor or employer to know about this upfront.
The other issue is related to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). TSA has initiated what they call automatic bin lanes at a few major US airports. This new security procedure, designed to more effectively and quickly move passengers through security screening, will have a direct impact on musicians carrying their instruments through these TSA automated security lanes.
The League of American Orchestras, members of our airline travel coalition, spoke with TSA officials by telephone in order
to help outline information musicians need to consider.
Highlights from that telephone call are:
For musicians who travel frequently, these tips, along with a copy of the AFM Pocket Flying Guide downloaded from AFM.org (Member Log In/ Document Library/ Legislative Office/ Flying with Musical Instruments), serve as guides for more convenient air travel.
On December 7, 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with national music partners including the AFM, LOAO, AFVBM, Carnegie Hall, CMA, the Recording Academy, and NAMM, presented a comprehensive webinar that summarizes new regulations relating to travel abroad for those who own musical instruments containing component parts of CITES protected wildlife species. This tell-all webinar can be found at: www.afm.org/2016/12/travel-instruments-containing-endangered-species/. We encourage every traveling musician to review this presentation.
For more than half a century, states have struggled over the adoption of “right to work” laws that give employers leverage to exploit workers by preventing them from forming and joining unions. Currently, there are right to work laws in 28 states. AFL-CIO research shows that workers in right to work states are worse off due to lower wages and income, lower rates of health insurance, and lower investment in education, and higher poverty, infant mortality rates, and workplace fatality rates.
For musicians, right to work employers promote policies that undermine collective bargaining, which often leads to reduced participation in collective action. For as much as our union has fought in the states against this policy, now Congress is engaged in a federal debate that would see national right to work laws enacted in this country.
On February 1, the battle came to Capitol Hill. Representative Steven King (R-IA) introduced HR 785, the National Right to Work Act—a bill designed to prevent union security agreements, weakening organized labor’s ability to unionize/organize workers. Both HR 785 and companion bill S 391 in the Senate amend the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act to repeal provisions that permit employers, pursuant to collective bargaining agreements that are union security agreements, to require employees to join a union. This includes provisions permitting railroad carriers to require, pursuant to such an agreement, a payroll deduction of union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
On January 31 and February 1, AFM President Ray Hair traveled to Washington, DC, to lobby members of Congress on the Fair Play Fair Pay Act; O and P Visas; support for National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and Corporation for Public Broadcasting; and against the offshoring of film scoring. These remain our signature issues and we are working hard to effect positive change in these areas.
We look forward to your continued input and encourage you to use the AFM congressional links to email your thoughts to your Washington, DC, representatives.