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.
August 6, 2014IM -
For the past 36 years, labor-minded musicians and other artists have gathered at the Great Labor Arts Exchange to celebrate creativity and solidarity. It is a weekend of workshops, films, discussion, poetry, jam sessions, and open mikes, sponsored by the Labor Heritage Foundation. At this year’s gathering, Local 1000 (nongeographic) members Pat Wynne of San Francisco, California, and Charlie King of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, received the Joe Hill Lifetime Achievement Award for their work in labor culture.
A longtime labor activist and organizer, Wynne conducts the Bay Area Rockin Solidarity Labor Chorus, which she founded in 1999. Wynne also arranges many of the pieces performed by the group whose members represent many different unions. “Most of the people in my chorus are not solo singers, but with the performance pieces they get to be characters and narrators, so it’s more about participation,” she explains.
Wynne teaches Labor Studies at City College of San Francisco. At the annual Arts Exchange she puts together an ad hoc chorus to perform some of her arrangements on Sunday evening. She formerly worked for the California Faculty Association at San Francisco University for 10 years helping to recruit members. “I was teaching labor studies and decided that I didn’t know enough about unions, so I went to work for one,” she explains. She is also a member of Local 6 (San Francisco, CA).
Wynne’s book Singing Out and Fighting Back can be found in the American Folk Life archive of the Library of Congress. During her visit to the area, Wynne visited the Library of Congress to autograph her book and present them with a CD of her songs, as well as a DVD her labor chorus performing “The Great Migration, Motown, and Michael Moore.” “That was the most exciting experience to be there,” she says, adding. “So now my whole chorus is in the Library of Congress.”
Charlie King, who has been singing at labor conferences, rallies, and picket lines since 1970, says he was elated to receive the Joe Hill Award. “I’ve been attending the Great Labor Arts Exchange since 1981 and have seen the award presented to Pete Seeker, Utah Phillips, Hazel Dickens, Joe Glazier, and more recently, Anne Feeney, Joe Uehlein, and Jon Fromer,” he says. “It’s thrilling to be counted in that number.”
“My career has been built on singing and writing songs about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people and the struggles for justice that they created,” he says. “My experience is that labor unions are losing the power that comes from songs of struggle. During the rise of unions in the first half of the 20th century, there was never a strike, march, picket line, or rally that wasn’t enlivened by songs. Music kept the struggle alive. Can you imagine the popular victories of the 20th century without ‘We Shall Overcome’ or ‘Solidarity Forever’? I would love to see a rebirth of interest by unions in song as a weapon in the struggle for justice.”
For more information about the Labor Heritage Foundation, Great Labor Arts Exchange, and Joe Hill Award visit www.laborheritage.org.