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.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE AFM

Secretary-Treasurer

jay blumenthal

Jay Blumenthal – AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

    2021 AFM Audit Complete and Annual Report Available Online

    The 2021 AFM audit has been completed. As in the past, the audited financials can be viewed within the AFM 2021 Annual Report, which has been uploaded to the AFM Members website. Using your AFM ID and password, log in and click on the Document Library tab and open the Financial Documents and Annual Report folder. There you will find the 2021 AFM Annual Report.

    With so many musicians out of work last year due to pandemic restrictions, work dues income was negatively impacted. Additionally, some members were unable to maintain their AFM membership thereby reducing AFM per capita income. Also, visa consultation letter income was down nearly 70% at one point during 2021 due to pandemic travel restrictions. All these factors combined were an indication of a potentially large 2021 deficit.

    The good news (surprisingly!) is that we posted a surplus! You may be asking how is that possible? Well, the anticipated deficit was partially mitigated by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan we received in the amount of $1,078,020 last year. This loan was used (as prescribed by the SBA) to pay AFM employee salaries. This loan covered salaries for approximately three months, helping to keep as many AFM US employees on the payroll as possible.

    By using the loan in this way, we were eligible for full loan forgiveness, which occurred on August 13, 2021. (Yes, you’ve got it right, by using the loan as prescribed by the SBA, we do not have to pay it back!) This is all reflected in the financials. (See note #15 on page 34 of the financials for additional details.) The Canadian government also provided partial payroll assistance for our AFM employees who work in our Canadian Office in Toronto.

    Both governmental pandemic assistance programs helped to reduce our 2021 operating expenses. This, along with taking every opportunity to reduce our other operating expenses, helped get us through last year’s crisis. Nearly all AFM travel was curtailed in 2021, thus eliminating most hotel, meal, and air travel expenses. Most AFM conferences were held virtually, which also helped to reduce operating expenses.

    So that’s the good news. But we are by no means out of the woods. The Paycheck Protection Program ended last year and the work situation for musicians, while improving, has been rather inconsistent, very much dependent on the contagiousness and severity of newly emerging COVID variants. Unless we see a full recovery in work dues, membership numbers, and visa consultation letter income, we are likely to see a deficit for 2022. We remain very watchful over our operating expenses, keeping them as low as possible. However, inflation and the tight job market are upward pressures on our operating expenses that do not appear to be going away any time soon.

    2021 Annual Report

    The recently published 2021 AFM Annual Report contains reports from the AFM international officers and key AFM employees. It provides an overview of last year’s events and various topics, such as AFM membership, locals, legislation, and Union Plus benefits. The Annual Report is printed only in the year of an AFM Convention, but it is readily available every year for your review online at AFM.org by logging in as described earlier. I hope you will take the opportunity to review the report as it is full of information about our AFM successes and our activities during what was the most challenging year in our 126-year history.

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    AFL-CIO Convention Coming Up in June 2022

    The AFL-CIO Convention, which last took place in St. Louis, Missouri (2017), will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from June 12-15, 2022. Normally, this convention is held every four years. However, the AFL-CIO Executive Council postponed the 29th AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention from October 2021 to June 2022 to protect the health and safety of delegates and hold a safe, in-person event.

    The AFM will have three elected delegates attend the AFL-CIO Convention (AFM President Ray Hair, AFM Southern Conference Secretary Lovie Wright-Smith, and myself). AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler will preside over the convention. Previously, Shuler served as AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer; however, upon the passing of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, she stepped up as interim president and was then elected August 5, 2021. Shuler has truly broken through many glass ceilings in her career, having been the youngest and first woman ever to hold the position of AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer and then the first woman to hold the position of AFL-CIO president.

    I have had the privilege of getting to know her over many years. Shuler has proven to be an intelligent, articulate, and energetic labor leader who is as at ease in the boardroom as she is in the trenches supporting the AFL-CIO’s 57 affiliate unions and their 12.5 million rank-and-file members. I look forward to attending this year’s convention and will report the outcome to you upon its conclusion.

    AFM 2021 Audit and LM-2 Filing

    I am pleased to report that the Federation’s Labor-Management report was uploaded successfully to the Department of Labor’s website on time. If your local’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, your 2021 LM report was due March 31.

    The Federation’s audit for 2021 is in the final stages of completion. As soon as it is wrapped up, we will report the audit results in the 2021 AFM Annual Report. When completed, the Annual Report file will be sent to all local officers by email. The Annual Report will also be available to all AFM members on the AFM website for review or download.

    Financial Assistance

    If you need financial assistance, particularly during this time of COVID, one resource that might be able to help is the Musicians Foundation. See my column in the August 2018 International Musician for details. (You can access IM archives on the AFM website. Log in and choose the International Musician tab, select 2018 from the dropdown menu, click the August issue, and go to page 5.) There, you will find information about the Musicians Foundation, including qualifications for support. The Musicians Foundation website is www.musiciansfoundation.org.

    Performances in Care Facilities

    Lastly, a heartfelt thanks to those musicians who perform in nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the US and Canada. Bringing the joy of music to our seniors uplifts their spirits and brightens their days in ways that cannot be duplicated. While the work may not be as glamorous as some of the other engagements you perform, it is so meaningful and much appreciated by your audiences. Thank you ever so much for making it a part of the work you do. Thanks to the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) for sponsoring these engagements. Those interested in performing for care facility audiences should contact the MPTF for more information (www.musicpf.org).

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    The AFM and FIM Express Support for Musicians of Ukraine

    Our hearts go out to the Ukrainian people who have been deeply affected by the Russian invasion. They have endured unspeakable hardships and have shown great courage in the face of adversity. As of today, no one knows what the future holds for Ukraine, but we do know that freedom and the Ukrainians desire to live in a democratic nation will never die.

    AFM Statement on Ukraine

    The AFM published this statement on the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

    The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada profoundly condemns Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine. We express our unwavering solidarity with the brave Ukrainian people and their elected government during this horrific time. We are concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian toll resulting from the barbaric attacks on the civilian population of Ukraine, and we pledge our resolute support to those in Russia who, at great risk, are protesting military aggression against Ukraine. We pray for an immediate end to the devastation and express our condolences for the unnecessary loss of life.

    In Unity,
    Ray Hair, AFM International President

    FIM Message to Ukrainian Musicians

    The AFM is also a member of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), and AFM President Ray Hair sits on the FIM presidium as a vice president. Founded in 1948, FIM represents 70 musician unions from 60 countries around the world. In March, FIM published this message of solidarity with Ukrainian musicians:

    1 March 2022,
    We call on the Russian music sector to make itself heard by political leaders so that they renounce the use of force, of which the cultural world is today a collateral victim.

    FIM will do its best to help Ukrainian musicians and their families affected by the war. We urge them to come forward to let us know their most urgent needs.

    In Solidarity,
    John Smith, OBE, President
    Benoît Machuel, General Secretary

    Donations to Support Ukraine

    Many people have asked how they can help musicians in Ukraine displaced by the war. At this time, there is no easy channel of communication that would allow direct assistance specifically targeted to Ukrainian musicians, but FIM suggests donations to the International Trade Union Confederation or the Cultural Workers Trade Union of Ukraine–Dnipro Region. Details can be found here: https://bit.ly/3wzmxdR.

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    AFM Convention Postponed to 2023

    It was not an easy decision to postpone the AFM Convention to next year, but convening it this year presented too many obstacles­—not the least of which was the safety of delegates, staff, guests, and performers. From the onset of the pandemic, many thought (including myself) that it would be over in several months. We never expected the 2022 AFM Convention to be impacted. It’s now two years later and we still have little clarity as to when the pandemic will be over.

    What we do know is that the current omicron variant is much more transmissible. Thankfully, we seem to have turned the corner and are seeing declining numbers in many places. Our Canadian delegates have the additional hurdle of a border crossing and having to adhere to the changing requirements of two different governments. If one were to test positive while outside their home country, immediate re-entry might not be possible and a long quarantine time could be required, necessitating an unexpected and costly hotel stay.

    Due to this continuing pandemic uncertainty, it was determined at a January emergency meeting of the AFM International Executive Board that holding the 102nd Convention in June 2022 would pose an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of Convention delegates, Federation officers, staff, and guests.

    Therefore, the Federation has rescheduled the 102nd AFM Convention to June 2023. Arrangements are being made for June 26­–29, 2023 at the Westgate Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas. Further details will be shared with locals and delegates as information is finalized.

    AFM Regional and Player Conferences

    With the 102nd AFM Convention postponed until 2023, 2022 becomes a non-convention year, triggering the Locals Conference Council (LCC) and Players’ Conference Council (PCC) meeting. This year’s LCC-PCC meeting will be virtual, June 25-26.

    In a normal AFM convention year, the AFM regional conferences often convene while at the convention hotel just prior to the convention. With the AFM Convention postponed, this year’s regional conferences will be held as they would in a non-convention year. Many conferences have made the decision to again meet virtually. Dates are being set by the respective conferences’ executive boards. The following is the information we have received so far:

    • February 25-27: Western Conference (virtual)
    • March 21: New Jersey Conference (virtual)
    • June 17-19: Eastern Conference (virtual)
    • July 26-29: ROPA, Orange County, CA (in person)
    • August 8-12: OCSM, Regina, SK (in person)
    • August 24-27: ICSOM, Grand Rapids, MI (in person)

    As more conference dates and times are received by the AFM Secretary-Treasurer’s office, they will be posted on the AFM website in the Document Library>Conferences folder.

    Labor-Management Reports

    This is a reminder for local secretary-treasurers that Labor-Management Reports (LM-2, LM-3 or LM-4) must be filed within 90 days after the end of your local’s fiscal year. If your fiscal year ended December 31, 2021, your local’s Labor-Management report is due no later than March 31, 2022. There are no extensions allowed.

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    A Model of Labor Activism Passes

    With the recent passing of retired AFM International Representative Eugene Tournour, the AFM and the labor movement have lost a remarkable labor activist. Gene could often be found on the front lines of demonstrations, protesting injustice in the fight for civil and workers’ rights.

    In the early 1960s, Gene was a Regional Representative for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). CORE espoused a strategy of nonviolent direct action, including sit-ins, jail-ins, and freedom rides. Gene often found himself on the receiving end of excessive force while he stood up for justice. He never hesitated getting himself into “good trouble” as John Lewis would say. Gene was fearless when it came to standing up for what was right. 

    A little over a decade ago, several of us at the Federation joined with Local 802 (New York City) to attend a demonstration as part of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, which was a protest movement fighting “economic inequality and the influence of money in politics.”

    We all assembled at a park in lower Manhattan and marched toward Wall Street. It was a peaceful demonstration with no violence that I was aware of at the time. The very next morning, Gene, having attended the march, came to work sporting a big black eye and red abrasions to the side of his face. We asked him what happened. He said, he was just standing there in peaceful protest when “the cops came by and busted me in the head with a night stick!” The beating he took looked painful but Gene smiled and acted as if it was all in a day’s work. 

    Gene was the real deal. He loved working in the labor movement and all of us are the beneficiaries of his commitment and passion for justice.

    Jefferson Bank & Trust protests were a major part of the 1960s Civil Rights story in St. Louis.

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