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.

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Home » Officer Columns » Executive Board Members » Election 2016—Make Your Vote Count!


Election 2016—Make Your Vote Count!

  -  AFM Legislative, Political, and Diversity Director

The AFM Office of Government Relations spends a significant amount of time working with members of Congress who advance legislation that makes the lives of working musicians and their families more secure and makes artists more effective in the workplace. AFM issues are not only arts related; many relate to the AFM’s effort to organize the workplace, while protecting your rights on the job, both at the federal and state levels. Our relationship with affiliate AFL-CIO unions often has us working with members of Congress on a broad range of nonartistic issues such as healthcare, pensions, prevailing wages, and the right to bargain collectively.

Your vote counts! Citizens in each state are governed by laws that protect their rights to vote, while the 15th, 19th, and 26th Amendments to the constitution outlaw voting discrimination based on race, sex, and age. Each citizen holds the key to moving this country’s civic priorities and your vote is a reflection of those priorities. In other words, you help decide the direction the legislative and executive branches take.

In order for the AFM to move its legislative agenda, we must be sure to help support members of Congress and an administration whose job it is to raise those issues and garner support for them. The first step is to elect these champions. That’s where you come in. Join with your local officers. In addition to casting your vote, participate in labor walks and phone banks. Your participation will be welcomed.

The year 2015 was a busy but successful year on Capitol Hill for musicians. The union made great strides in Congress and with federal agencies that hold our interests in the balance through legislation and regulation. Past issues and new issues will come up during 2016, even though members of Congress will be busy with elections. There are a number of matters that we must engage, if we hope to be equally successful in the coming years.

Voter Registration: The AFM strongly encourages each member to register to vote so that they may enjoy unimpeded participation in the electoral process. The federal government, through the Election Assistance Commission (http://www.eac.gov/voter_resources/contact_your_state.aspx) provides guidance. Each state maintains its own registration rules and system. The Office of the Secretary of State usually manages the voting process in each state and the District of Columbia. Visit the site above and click on the state map to get detailed information about registration requirements and deadlines in your state. A list of presidential and Congressional primary dates from the Federal Election Commission can be found at: http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2016/2016pdates.pdf.

Federal Election Year

Because 2016 is a federal election year, voters will not only elect local officials, but also state and federal candidates, including president. The following federal and state elections take priority. Twelve republican candidates are running for president: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham, and Rick Santorum. The Democratic field includes Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley.

Each of the 435 seats in the US House of Representatives is up for election/re-election, while 34 of 100 Senate seats will be up for election/re-election. Fourteen governorships (12 states and two territories) will be up for election in 2016. Those states/territories are: Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa.

Federal Issues of Concern to AFM Members

Healthcare: Recently, the Congress forwarded a bill to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). President Obama immediately vetoed it. The House has voted numerous times to repeal the bill or some portion of it. This will be an ongoing battle that Republicans believe can be won, if they hold the majority in the next congress, and if a Republican president is elected. In addition, we continue to work with other labor affiliates to repeal the 40% excise tax on premium healthcare plans.

Immigration: A permanent solution to expediting O and P visas remains a priority for our union. With backlogs looming more than 90 days, it is time for Congress to get behind us the same way they did on the instrument carry-on issue. That work is in progress.

Fair Play Fair Pay Act: We continue to work with the musicFIRST Coalition to enlist more congressional sponsors on this bill that would provide a performance right for sound recordings performed on AM/FM radio. H.R. 1733, introduced by Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), was developed with the combined efforts of Congressional staff and national music rights organizations.

The WAGE Act: Introduced by Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) in the House and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) in the Senate, this bill would strengthen the rights of working people who organize and promote change through collective action. Among other things, it provides swift reinstatement of workers fired for exercising their rights on the job, allows workers to bring suit and recover damages against employers who illegally fire them, establishes triple backpay without deductions, and provides timely remedy to employer interference with elections.

National Endowment for the Arts: The AFM joins the continuing fight to maintain a federal arts agency that promotes a vibrant arts culture in the US, while providing assistance to large and small arts organizations that bring added cultural value to American communities.

State Issues of Concern to AFM Members

A host of state issues, including adverse pension legislation, elimination of prevailing wage, banning of PAC payroll deductions, along with attacks on collective bargaining are on the docket in state legislatures. Most importantly, “right to work” legislation is on the docket in Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Oregon, to name a few. These issues impact collective bargaining and your rights in the workplace. You should be aware of them and engage with your AFM local, as well as your state and local labor councils whenever possible to help defeat these initiatives.







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