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 3, 2017Jay Blumenthal - AFM International Secretary-Treasurer
While many are welcoming the arrival of spring with cherry blossoms, light green foliage as tree leaves make their annual debut, and erupting flower beds, AFM local officers have been hard at work preparing and uploading their DOL Labor-Management reports and wrapping up their 2016 audits. Indeed, spring is a very busy time of year for AFM Secretary-Treasurers. As we wrap up our paperwork for last year, we are all provided with an opportunity to reflect back on 2016.
This year’s annual AFM audit will confirm the Federation had a surplus in 2016; however, the surplus was smaller than those reported in recent years. The primary reason for this can be attributed to higher legal costs. Negotiating successor agreements, and holding employers accountable, has been a hallmark of this administration. In the recording industry, some film companies and record labels have not been meeting their contractual obligations in full. This has resulted in litigation initiated by the AFM. In several instances, rather than going through protracted and expensive litigation, settlements have been reached putting payments into the pockets of musicians now rather than rolling the dice for a potential win (or loss) years down the road. Unfortunately, in a few cases, settlements could not be reached so some litigation continues.
Litigation can be very expensive, so our legal bills for 2016 shot up dramatically. Realizing large legal bills are not financially sustainable, AFM President Ray Hair and I discussed how we might better contain legal costs without sacrificing our responsibility to maintain and enforce our national contracts. Consequently, we made two new hires to serve as attorneys, joining our In-House Legal Counsel Jennifer Garner. These new attorneys are embedded in various AFM departments. In-House Counsel for the AFM West Coast Office Russell Naymark and Special Counsel and SSD Director Rochelle Skolnick will help litigate cases thereby reducing our dependence on outside counsel. While there will be times when we need outside expertise, the hope is that these additions to our staff will aid in bringing down our legal costs.
The AFM’s 2016 Labor Management report (LM-2) was uploaded successfully and timely to the Department of Labor (DOL) site. AFM locals and conferences with a January to December fiscal year should have completed and submitted their 2016 LM report to the DOL as the deadline was March 31. There is no grace period! Beginning with the January 2017 fiscal year, all LM reports must be signed and filed electronically. (See my September 2016 International Musician Secretary-Treasurer column, page 4.)
The AFM 2016 Annual Report is currently being prepared. It is comprehensive and contains reports from the AFM president, general counsel, vice president from Canada, secretary-treasurer, auditor (BDO) with financial statements, Federation division directors, the editor of the International Musician, and the AFM International Executive Board minutes. When ready, electronic copies of the annual report will be e-mailed to all AFM locals and will be available on the member’s side of the AFM.org website. Printed copies will be made available to locals upon request.
The 2017 List of Locals booklet has been printed and mailed to each local. If your local has not received your copies, please let Assistant Secretary Jon Ferrone firstname.lastname@example.org know so we can follow up. The 2017 List of Locals is also available electronically on the Member’s section of the AFM.org website. After logging in, go to Document Library / Miscellaneous Folder / 2017 List of Locals.
Now go enjoy springtime!