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.
October 1, 2020IM -
Financial Assistance Extended From 6 to 24 Weeks, Only One Application Form
After eight years of work, the Toronto Musicians’ Association (TMA) has created a new benevolent fund that will augment existing programs to help members through times of financial need due to long-term illness. The Member Assistance Fund (MAF) became fully implemented this past January—just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic that has so far infected approximately 115,000 people in Canada (and more than five million in the US).
The new program has extended financial assistance for Local 149 (Toronto, ON) members from the previous amount of time of six weeks to up to 24 weeks and, with the advent of the COVID crisis in March, the funds will likely play an even greater role in members’ lives than previously anticipated. Even better, since the system is funded by work dues, it is a self-sustaining program.
“This has been a long journey, but I knew the MAF had the potential to expand and our benevolent funds could work in conjunction with each other and with external resources,” says Dr. Rea Beaumont, Local 149 Board of Directors Member and MAF Committee Chair. “Now that everything is set up, this is an important opportunity for other locals who could readily adopt the TMA’s model. It’s important for members to have some financial assistance in addition to what’s out there, especially now in the time of COVID. It works, and our members appreciate the solidarity and support.”
The TMA now has three benevolent funds that provide modest financial assistance to eligible members in good standing. The Health, Education and Welfare Fund (HEW), provides up to 12 weeks (an initial six weeks with an additional six weeks possible subject to board approval) of financial aid for eligible members who are unable to work due to long-term illness or injury. For conditions or disabilities that are expected to last longer than 12 weeks, members may receive additional support of 12 more weeks from the new MAF benefit. There is also a Life Member Benevolent Fund that subsidizes annual dues for designated life members with financial challenges.
The MAF was founded in the 1980s when the late Donald Pierre and his band held a fundraising concert to help TMA members in need pay their annual dues. The fund was expanded in scope and financial capacity in 2012 as a way to enhance the existing benevolent funds. The expansion was approved by a vote of Local 149 members, who authorized having a small percentage of the revenue from work dues be transferred from the General Fund to the benevolent funds. “The vote was unanimous, and it was a special moment,” Beaumont says. “It’s about members helping members.”
An MAF Committee was formed at that time, whose job was to implement the new program. Beaumont, who has been chair of the MAF Committee since its inception, says the process involved devising operational guidelines, establishing a set of transparent policies and procedures, developing a streamlined application process, determining eligibility requirements, and obtaining approval from members.
“Long-term illness can be devastating with a multi-pronged impact on health, career, and finances,” Beaumont says. Now, TMA members in good standing who suffer from long-term illness may apply for assistance from HEW to cover the first 12 weeks of illness, and from MAF to cover the second 12 weeks. Another innovation of the TMA program is that the application process was recently streamlined so that only one form needs to be completed, and a doctor’s note submitted, for members to receive assistance for up to 24 weeks.
The funds also work in combination with external financial assistance programs, such as The Unison Benevolent Fund, The Actors Fund of Canada, and The Lester Petrillo Memorial Fund for Disabled Musicians.
“Extending this financial assistance from six to 24 weeks is huge, especially now,” Beaumont says. “The simplification and streamlining of the application process—from three forms now to one—is just so important, and so simple.”
Beaumont says the process to create these benevolent fund programs took a long time, a lot of work, and moments where committee members had to be creative in their problem solving. “If any local had to start from scratch on this, they wouldn’t have the time,” she says. “My hope is that other locals may read this article and want to adopt a similar program of their own. It’s all there on our website; it’s very adaptable; it works within our bylaws. It’s a flexible but solid model.”
For more information, visit the TMA website at https://tma149.ca, or contact MAF Committee Chair Rae Beaumont or Local 149 Executive Director Michael Murray through the local.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Locals’ Conferences Council (LCC) and Player Conferences Council (PCC) meeting has been rescheduled. The new dates are Saturday, June 5, and Sunday, June 6, 2021 at the Westgate Hotel, Las Vegas, NV.