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Home » Officer Columns » AFM Updates Locals’ and Players’ Conference Delegates

AFM Updates Locals’ and Players’ Conference Delegates

  -  AFM International President

Following the Second Quarter AFM International Executive Board (IEB) meeting, held June 12-14 at the Motor City Casino in Detroit, Michigan, I have been reflecting on the considerable progress the Federation has made in the last 11 months.

In April, the Education Committee launched the new AFM Officer Training program at the Western Conference of Locals. Led by Rochelle Skolnick, director of the Symphonic Service Division, and John Painting, director of the Electronic Media Services Division, the training delivers presentations focused on three main areas: 1) “Building Union Power,” covering union and leadership philosophy and problem-solving; 2) “Skill-Building Modules,” addressing on-the-ground topics and issues commonly faced by local officers; and 3) “Nuts-and-Bolts Practices,” focusing on the administration of a local office.

Delegates at the 102nd AFM Convention clearly expressed their desire to see the AFM expand its involvement in organizing activities. To that end, I am happy to announce that we have hired two field organizers and will soon be hiring a researcher, all of whom will be working under the guidance of Director of Organizing and Assistant to the President Gabe Kristal (refer to the columns from the Organizing Division staff on pages 10-13 for more details).

I have appointed an IEB committee to spearhead the “Change the Culture” initiative to address workplace safety concerns. This involves implementing a code of conduct and sexual harassment policy, outlining consequences for violations, providing proactive training, and implementing reporting tools to safeguard our members from discrimination, harassment, and sexual assault, with a focus on protecting our most vulnerable members, such as our freelance and gig musicians.

A recurring topic in workplace discussions, we continuously struggle with the challenge of addressing artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential threat to the careers and livelihoods of musicians, both present and future. The use of this technology could have far-reaching negative implications for society, creators, and cultural diversity. Generative artificial intelligence companies will need to offer protections to musicians providing content, including consent of the musicians for the use of their sound, credit to the musicians, and fair compensation for the musicians whose work and talents form the foundation of the digital replication from existing content or the generation of new content. The current proposed legislation does little to protect nonfeatured session musicians, but rather focuses on our featured artists. This is equally important and integral to the protection of human artistry; however, the emphasis in most bills concentrates on image, likeness, and voice. More needs to be done to protect the instrumental sound of musicians, recognizing that no two performers on a given instrument impute the same style and sound.

The AFM is increasing its efforts and plans to actively participate in discussions and important legislative initiatives to ensure that AI develops in a way that upholds fundamental principles and serves as a tool to enhance, rather than replace, human creativity. We will need to develop a robust legislative agenda if we are to have our voices heard. That can only happen with the full participation of all musicians. This is an existential crisis for all of us. Without addressing these difficult issues, we will continue to see our work diminish as instrument replacement technology advances and leaves us behind.

I am pleased to announce that the International Executive Board has agreed to engage a consultant to facilitate our long-term strategic planning process. This decision reflects our dedication to actively shape the Federation’s future and ensure that we continue to be a strong advocate for our members in the constantly changing music industry. I believe that this collaboration will lead to a clear plan for the AFM’s future.

Following the International Executive Board meeting, IEB members and department directors met with the leaders of the Locals’ Conference Council (LCC) and Players’ Conference Council (PCC). The LCC consists of leadership from all the AFM local conferences and essentially represents the entire AFM membership. The PCC consists of leadership from all the player conferences representing AFM symphonic, recording, and theater and touring musicians. Since the early ’90s, during years without an AFM Convention, conference representatives have met with AFM leadership to discuss issues relevant to their specific members.

During the LCC report, a variety of questions and concerns were addressed. The goal of the LCC is to gather information and provide suggestions to support local officers in carrying out their responsibilities within the AFM. The main topics of discussion included the formation of a legislative committee to share resources and assist in state legislative efforts, current and potential organizing campaigns, education and training for local officers, updates on Federation staffing, long-term strategic planning, and a discussion about the AFM website and InTune IT. The interactions between LCC delegates and AFM representatives were highly informative and greatly appreciated.

The PCC reports provided valuable insights into the achievements and challenges faced by their respective groups. They also discussed how to support the organizing and educating of members, and shared experiences in negotiations and other activities over the past year.

The LCC-PCC meeting is an invaluable resource that bridges the gap between international conventions and provides attending delegates with updated information they can share with their locals and constituent groups. It is yet another example of the democratic structure of our union and the opportunities that we will continue to offer regarding member participation and involvement.

July marks the end of my first year in office, and I am proud of the work this administration has accomplished and grateful for the gifted staff that works tirelessly for the benefit of our members. I am building an administration that will provide tangible resources to strengthen member empowerment through organizing and education. We need to grow and strengthen our union, and when we stand together, great things happen.

Locals’ Conference Representatives (L-R): Professional Musicians of California President Kale Cumings, Professional Musicians of Texas Secretary Aaron Pino, Eastern Conference of Musicians President Anthony Scally, Western Conference Secretary Tammy Noreyko, New England Conference Secretary Candace Lammers, AFM President Tino Gagliardi, Mid-States Conference of Musicians President Dan Cerveny, Southern Conference President Aaron Lack, Illinois State Conference Vice President BJ Levy, and Mid-America Conference President Leonard DiCosimo. (Not pictured: Mid-America Conference Secretary Martin Borton.)
Players’ Conference Representatives (L-R): ROPA President Steve Wade, ICSOM Chair Keith Carrick, AFM President Tino Gagliardi, TMA At-Large Delegate Nancy Chaklos, OCSM President Robert Fraser, and RMA President Marc Sazer.

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