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


Home » Officer Columns » Changes at the Canadian Labour Congress

Changes at the Canadian Labour Congress

  -  AFM Vice President from Canada

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), Canada’s version of the AFL-CIO, representing 3.3 million unionized workers, held its 27th national convention May 5-9. It was the largest convention ever, with almost 5,000 delegates registered. As a vice president and part of the executive committee, I attended as a delegate, and was joined by CFM Executive Director Liana White. In addition, we participated in the trade show. The CFM booth was attended by Director Freelance Services/Membership Development Paul Sharpe and Membership Services Administrator Anya Craig.

Before you ask how many electricians and pipefitters we hoped to recruit, I should tell you that this was not the purpose of our trade show participation. Rather, the push was entirely on AFM Entertainment. We have long known that our unionized sisters and brothers sponsor thousands of events with music, and this was an opportunity to introduce them to the best place to source and book union musicians. Thanks to Sharpe and Craig, I believe our message was delivered loud and clear.

Hassan Yussuff made history as the first person to defeat a sitting president of the Canadian Labour Congress. Yussuff is also the first person of colour to hold the office of leader of the CLC, a positive indication of just how diverse the CLC had become. Yussuff, who was first elected CLC secretary-treasurer in 2002, defeated outgoing 15-year president Ken Georgetti by just 40 votes. 

Shortly after the results were made public, Georgetti passed a motion to have the vote counted as a unanimous one in favour of Yussuff, greeting the president-elect and raising their hands in solidarity at the podium. The new president ran on a campaign of change, promising to bring grassroots action back to the CLC. A third presidential nominee, Hassan Husseini, dropped out of the race earlier in the week in order to back Yussuff’s bid for presidency. Chants of solidarity were heard throughout the convention hall in Montreal as Yussuff’s supporters rushed to embrace the new president.

In his first speech after the election, Yussuff reaffirmed his commitment to working toward a more inclusive and mobilized labour movement. He also sent a clear message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that the CLC will not bridge any more attacks on labour law in Canada.

New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Thomas Mulcair spoke at the convention before the winner was announced. He stated that the CLC and NDP would continue to work closely to advance a progressive agenda. “We have, for the first time, a government that is actively attacking organized labour,” he said after his speech, referencing recent federal bills like Bill C-377. “They’ve been trying to put all sorts of sticks in the spokes of the union movement. It’s a direct attack on rights that are guaranteed under the charter.”

Barbara Byers defeated Nathalie Stringer to be named secretary-treasurer of the CLC. There were slightly more than 2,000 votes cast for both candidates, indicating that more than half of the delegates who attended the morning presidential vote had left. Byers reaffirmed her support for Yussuff and promised to fight for every single member of the CLC. Similar to Georgetti, Stringer successfully motioned to have the vote recorded as unanimous in Byers favour.

Marie Clarke Walker was re-elected to her position of executive vice president, while Donald Lafleur is the new face on the national executive board garnering the most votes of any of the executive vice president candidates, 1,265.

Musicians are not an easy fit into an organization representing the labour force, and there are always challenges to be overcome in the way we are viewed. Nevertheless, in a country where 54% of the work force is unionized, it is imperative that we stand united against the forces that would have us divided.

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