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.
July 1, 2022Alfonso Pollard -
The PRO Act is once again front and center of the AFL-CIO’s legislative agenda. Action currently resides in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and is being closely monitored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who has plans to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote in July.
I am a member of the AFL-CIO legislative task force on the bill which is focused on delivery of a staff briefing for the HELP Committee. During calls to HELP Committee members in preparation for the vote, we emphasize that the PRO Act clearly determines who can be represented by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and that the bill does not change the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) definition of an employee. The IRS definition is not relevant because the PRO Act has nothing to do with taxes.
The PRO Act is up for a cloture vote about four weeks from now. The AFL-CIO expects the whip count to be approximately 49 or 50 votes going in.
Thanks to AFM International Executive Board (IEB) Member and Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) President Ed Malaga as well as Local 161-710 Secretary-Treasurer Marta Bradley for attending the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee labor dinner and speaking to senators about the AFM’s support of the bill.
A resolution to support the PRO Act took center stage at the AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia when it was voted on and adopted by the convention body.
View “The PRO Act Explainer: 10 Problems Fixed by the PRO Act” at https://www.afm.org/what-we-are-doing/the-pro-act/
The American Music Fairness Act (HR 4130) has been our focus and the central piece of legislation of the musicFIRST Coalition Executive Committee. My participation in this legislation has been primarily in the lobbying arena, led by former Congressman Joe Crowley. The lobbying team has made significant strides in the House of Representatives, having initiated a full Judiciary Committee hearing at which AFM IEB Member and Local 257 (Nashville, TN) President Dave Pomeroy testified.
That successful intervention led the way to a series of other activities, which included a briefing from Pomeroy and me to staff members of the House Arts Caucus, co-chaired by Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who are natural allies of arts-related legislation.
After spending a significant amount of time courting sponsorship by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT), that effort came to an end when his staff informed us that the senator would not sponsor the bill. From there, we began to focus on Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) because of his support of the entertainment industry in California. An announcement about his intentions is expected soon.
California AFM locals met with me on the issue in early April. That meeting eventually led to an online Zoom meeting with Padilla’s chief of staff. Approximately 10 members of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA), representing all the AFM locals in the state, successfully laid out the AFM’s position on the bill.
Our current concern centers on midterm elections, especially in New York, where our longtime House Judiciary Committee champion and Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is facing a tough redistricting race against Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). The loss of Nadler, who has been a champion of this bill from its inception, would be a major setback for the coalition, especially with the retirement of one of the bill’s principal House sponsors Ted Deutch (D-FL), slated for resignation from Congress at the end of this session. Our efforts on the bill will continue.
In June, the House Appropriations Subcommittee Fiscal Year 2023 budget request for the Arts and Humanities increased funding to $210 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Both agencies enjoy bipartisan support.
After successfully lobbying for inclusion of 501(c)(6) organizations (unions) to be included in the grant application process, we can report that another of the Department for Professional Employee’s priority changes has been pledged.
At a committee hearing on June 8, NEA Chair Dr. Maria Rosario and NEH Chair Shelly Lowe announced the creation of chief diversity officers for each agency. This remarkable announcement will help guarantee equity in the grant-making process and help assure that qualified underrepresented community grant organizations are carefully evaluated and have fair access to the millions of dollars in grant money distributed by these agencies each year.
The restoration of tax deductions for artists remains a priority for arts, entertainment, and media industry affiliates. For months, the Department for Professional Employees (DPE) Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry Coordinating Committee (AEMI) has worked to increase congressional sponsors of Representative Judy Chu’s (D-CA) legislation, while at the same time worked with House staffers to move the bill out of committee and onto the floor. Difficulties have arisen as no formidable tax vehicle has surfaced in the House or Senate to carry this proposal. The committee continues to meet to work toward a breakthrough in the legislative process.
The AFM Legislative Office continues to work with the AFL-CIO and AFM International Vice President and Local 99 (Portland, OR) President Bruce Fife to arrange discussions with the office of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to help move this legislation forward.