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 » How to Encourage Union Membership


How to Encourage Union Membership

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

There are some myths and false claims for why people are afraid to join the union. Here’s how to deal with those people and how to encourage union membership.

The conversation begins:

“Oh, so you’re a musician, too! Do you belong to the union? What union? Don’t you know about the American Federation of Musicians? I’m a member of Local XXX because I want to make music to the best of my ability, and to do so, I need appropriate compensation. While music making is an individual endeavor, everything work-related is part of a much bigger picture. My ability to work is impacted by outside influences beyond my control and that is where union membership is important. I’m individually responsible for my music making, but only with the leverage of a larger group of people with similar interests can I have influence on decisions that affect my ability to work making music. Join the union and become informed. All of the roads to being a working musician in the US or Canada lead back to the influence of the American Federation of Musicians.”

The union doesn’t do anything for me.

“Okay, so you joined the union and nothing changed. Did you join the union, or did you simply send in your application and dues and get into the database? The union isn’t a cable subscription service. It’s more like a gumball machine where you drop in the coin but actually have to reach into the spout, pick out the gumball, and then chew it to get the full flavor of what you paid for.

“The union is interactive with a key word being ‘active.’ Have you attended a new member orientation? Have you met with your local officers? Have you been to a union meeting? If you have, did you speak up? If you raised an issue was it in the context of ‘the union needs to fix _____?’ And then your perception is that nothing happened? Did you follow up with your local to find out whether your issue has been examined? Have you offered to assist with finding a solution? Many of the work issues we face as musicians don’t have simple solutions but by interacting with other member musicians we can find answers that will either help us resolve the issue or provide us with information that takes us in an entirely different direction making the original issue less unimportant.”

All I want to do is show up to my job, make music, and get paid.

“You, and everybody else. No musician I have ever met became a musician so they could join the union and become involved in union activities. We get out into the workforce and start realizing there are issues beyond our individual control. Then it comes down to choices: we can either get out of the business or we can find resources that help us address our issues and find workable solutions. Generations of musicians have turned to union membership as the best resource for finding those solutions. Those of us who have found the union, and benefited by union membership, have an interest in helping other musicians join us as well. Greater union membership equates to more resources and more control over our work.”

For more talking points when having a conversation about the union check out the AFM Bylaws, Article 2—Mission.







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