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 1, 2022Jay Blumenthal - AFM International Secretary-Treasurer
As the ball has dropped in Times Square ushering in the 2022 New Year, the hope is that this year will bring improved work situations for all AFM members. Last year brought the reopening of some theaters and music venues, but the return to full employment has been elusive. While we all want to get past the pandemic, we are beginning to realize that this may not happen soon.
The percentage of the US that is fully vaccinated remains stubbornly low at approximately 60%, which is not nearly high enough to approach herd immunity. Exacerbating the situation is the low worldwide vaccination rate with many populations in less developed countries having yet to receive even a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. As I’ve mentioned previously, until we achieve a high level of vaccination worldwide, we remain vulnerable to new variants that have the potential of being vaccine resistant.
So what are the ramifications of an under-vaccinated world? Simply put, we may never be able to put COVID-19 to bed for good, at least not until the world population is vaccinated. This will likely take a long time. We may end up experiencing a continuing cycle of evolving variants and a race by laboratories to create adjustments to vaccines to remain protective. Who would have thought when the pandemic started nearly two years ago that we would still be battling this worldwide scourge?
As of this writing, the latest variant, Omicron, has gained a foothold in the US, Canada, and several other countries around the world. By the time you read this column, we should have more information about its transmissibility and severity. The virus will continue to evolve in its attempt to outsmart our defenses. This is why worldwide vaccination is so important.
If you have not been vaccinated, I urge you to do so, unless you require a medical or religious accommodation. It’s my opinion that this is a public health emergency, not an assault on personal freedom. How unfortunate that vaccination is being used by some to further divide us.
Freedom to Vote Act
It is indeed unfortunate that voter registration and voter access have come under attack. To my mind, these attacks represent the single greatest internal threat to our democracy. On September 14, 2021, the Freedom to Vote Act (S. 2747) sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), was introduced. This bill seeks to encourage voter registration and access, bolster election security, and reform gerrymandering and campaign finance.
As each day passes, we move closer and closer to the mid-term elections and the important 2024 presidential election. If voter suppression is allowed by way of restricted voter registration, restricted voter access, mind-bending gerrymandering, and campaigns awash in money from corporations and the very wealthy, democracy as we know it will be but a fond memory.
A December 6, 2021 article by Barton Gellman, appearing in The Atlantic, paints a very disturbing picture. Gellman writes, in some states “they are rewriting statutes to seize partisan control of decisions about which ballots to count and which to discard, which results to certify and which to reject. They are driving out or stripping power from election officials who refused to go along with the plot last November, aiming to replace them with exponents of the big lie. They are fine-tuning a legal argument that purports to allow state legislators to override the choice of the voters.”
If we are to successfully preserve our democracy for our children and grandchildren and if we want to ensure our votes are counted in future elections, we cannot stand by and be silent. Call or write your elected officials and let them know your thoughts on these issues.