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.
May 28, 2015Alan Willaert - AFM Vice President from Canada
Prior to May of this year, the copyright on sound recordings in Canada extended 50 years after release. In a surprise move, the Harper government, without any public consultation or discussion, moved to extend protection to 70 years as part of the budget. Sadly, the change did not include authors and publishers, where copyright protects the song for the life of the author plus 50 years.
Understandably, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) applauded the increase for sound recordings, but was dismayed by the oversight of authors and publishers. In pressuring the government for an explanation, SOCAN learned that the rest “would be dealt with later.” Canada’s Copyright Act is scheduled for mandatory review in 2017.
Some columnists have suggested that the change came about due to heavy lobbying by Music Canada, which represents the major record labels. And, that it is a direct result of Music Canada’s increasing concern about public domain recordings appearing on store shelves in Canada. A Canadian company called Stargrove Entertainment began selling two Beatles recordings cheaper than those available through Universal Music. They were, of course, subsequently picked up by Walmart. Along with Can’t Buy Me Love and Love Me Do, additional titles from Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, and The Rolling Stones were also on the list.
Update on Bill C-377
Pressured by the determination of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the conservative-controlled Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs shut down debate of bill C-377. While 75 organizations and 249 individuals had formally requested an opportunity to testify, only three meetings were held with a total of 23 witnesses, representing 7% of the requests—an extraordinary example of Harper-style democracy.
The list of those denied their request to speak includes some of the country’s largest unions, smaller locals, and union members themselves, including Confédération des syndicats nationaux, Labourers International Union of North America, Canadian Teachers Federation, Canada’s Building Trades Unions, and Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions.
The private members’ legislation, innocuously titled “An Amendment to the Income Tax Act,” will impose unprecedented reporting standards upon labour organizations in Canada. Not only will unions be required to publicly disclose all financial information and transactions of more than $5,000, but elected officials will be required to account for the amount of time they commit to particular activities.
C-377 is being sold by MP Hiebert and his political allies as a mechanism to align Canadian reporting standards with a counterpart programme south of the border, the Office of Labor-Management Standards, as well as a means to uphold union transparency. Unless amended, the bill also reaches into the private information of union members, such as their pensions.
If passed into law, the legislation will almost certainly face constitutional challenges in the courts, especially over conflicts with the Privacy Act. What is clear is that C-377 remains a marker of ideology, and most certainly an illustration of the government’s anti-union legacy.
Findings from a forthcoming article in Labour/le travail, co-authored with Dr. Sean Tucker at the University of Regina, reveal that supporting the legislation is a thin line of Conservative allies, namely the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), Merit Contractors, and LabourWatch. Led by lobbyist and former House of Commons researcher, Terrance Oakey, Merit has helped to identify the true purpose of C-377: to function as a mechanism through which the anti-union lobby can effectively counter labour’s political messaging and activism. With Canada on the brink of a federal election, the passage of C-377 could provide Merit and other Conservative allies with the tools to help generate support for right-to-work legislation as strategic expenditures and union officials’ time are exposed through a Canada Revenue Agency website.
In my opinion, Canadian unions are already fully transparent to the people they should be accountable to—the members. Giving the public access to union financials creates an unfair advantage for the employers with whom we bargain.