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.
January 27, 2015IM -
by Ed Gutierrez, AFM West Coast Organizing Coordinator
It has often been said that organizing is the lifeblood of the labor movement. Without a doubt, there is nothing more powerful than workers coming together and marching in lockstep toward a common goal. Whether it’s pushing for worker-friendly legislation, bargaining contracts, addressing issues on the shop floor, or fighting for union recognition and respect from our employers and the industry, we must either organize or perish. But, no matter what the goal, successful organizing goes hand in hand with an informed understanding of the environment and the interrelationship between the elements within it. To gain such an understanding, research is critical.
Successful organizing requires a strategy to win. And, while member activism and the capacity to mobilize workers can mean the difference between life and death for a union campaign, research is key in developing a strategy that will give workers a roadmap to victory. Organizing without solid research can sometimes be like shooting in the dark. Research shines a light, and regardless of the challenges we seek to overcome, our work in organizing depends on our ability to see all of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats we face along the way and to plan accordingly.
Union campaign research focuses on a range of areas and issues that can be touched on in the course of any given campaign. Research that organizing unions typically conduct include:
AFM members are using research to help in organizing and building power for musicians. Recent examples from our union show how research is playing an increasingly important role in the organizing work we do. For example, in December 2014, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) released its groundbreaking report, Keeping the Score: The Impact of Recapturing North American Film and Television Sound Recording Work.”The LAANE report fills a void in what has been an otherwise rhetoric-heavy debate by taking a thorough look at the problem of “runaway” post-production through a fact-based, data-driven analysis of the factors that contribute to the increasing loss of film scoring work for AFM members.
The study—with research conducted in part by rank-and-file musicians themselves—gives us a wealth of powerful information to work with in organizing for more employment and in seeking to affect change on a policy level. Here are just a few of the report’s findings:
AFM’s Organizing & Education Division is also currently providing research support for members at locals in both Seattle and Portland in their unique but related work on building our union’s Fair Trade Music program. This includes market-based research aimed at gaining a more complete understanding of the club scene in these respective cities, and research looking at questions about how public policy in those cities impacts musicians.
Conducting research can also provide an important organizing opportunity itself. This is an especially effective tool to build the union in the case of new organizing when the AFM works with musicians who seek to improve their working conditions by organizing into our union. After all, who better to gather information about any number of issues related to an industry than the workers within that industry?
Ultimately, research is central to any comprehensive organizing strategy. Not only does good research arm workers with the facts, figures, and expertise needed to stand up to power and stake out a position around the issues important to our livelihoods, but it also allows us to see clearly how a comprehensive plan can be developed in an organizing campaign. Good research allows unions to develop the necessary support for our work in the community and to effectively engage employers around our issues. And that’s powerful stuff.