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 » Midwinter Meanderings: Finding Union Resources


Midwinter Meanderings: Finding Union Resources

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by Tina Morrison, AFM International Executive Board Member and President of Local 105 (Spokane, WA)

Roadblocks. Every now and then we have all run into them and we face a choice: stay where we are or find a detour. It sometimes seems there are roadblocks everywhere we turn. Some of them can be maneuvered around easily, where others require pretty significant detours. However, we have resources, such as access to information, to help us find our way. Someone has the information we need and, with assistance, we can usually find another route to get us where we need to go.

Hopefully, you read last month’s IM article on Fair Trade Music organizing in Local 76-493 (Seattle, WA), and the inroads they are making in the club scene. Building on a foundation created by Local 99 (Portland, OR), new bridges are being developed to empower freelance musicians and help them gain more control over working conditions in their hometown.

The turbulence in the orchestral world seems to be subsiding, although there are still musicians facing challenges. With each struggle, musicians learn something new and then pass along their roadmaps to assist the next group facing similar issues.

As reported over the last year in the IM, the AFM has made great strides with the implementation of rules regulating US air travel with instruments, as well as successes in negotiations across different sectors of the music industry. With every successful action, reference is made to the musicians that participated and assisted in the process.

Whether or not we travel with instruments or work under those negotiated agreements, we all benefit from the values established. Perhaps more importantly, we are given direction on what to do in order to improve our own situations. The common denominator is musicians banding together to share knowledge, skills, and resources to institute changes that improve their lives.

We’re getting back to how the AFM can be most effective: musicians with a commitment to each other working together to define standards and conditions, sharing information, and ultimately helping ourselves. The AFM is not a separate entity. Rank-and-file musicians elect local officers and representatives who, in turn, elect international officers. All of us have duties, rights, and responsibilities outlined in the bylaws. Musicians propose and vote to establish bylaws, participate in negotiations, and vote on contracts. The foundations of bylaws at the local and the international levels are created by musicians, for musicians. We have made a commitment to each other as members of our locals and the AFM, and in this way, we uphold standards and values.

Going back to the roadblocks, they can seem insurmountable when one doesn’t use the resources available to find the detour with the most potential. One avenue to take is to get more involved with your local by serving on a committee. Check in and find out if your local has established committees, and if not, volunteer to help form one to work on issues that are important to you. Growing membership should be a priority. It is the best way to increase resources and create leverage in your music scene. Contact your friends and colleagues and invite them to work with you. You might also consider getting involved with your local Central Labor Council; they are often looking for rank-and-file union members to serve on committees. They can provide education and training to help you find your way forward.   .







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