A resolution that provoked considerable debate during the recently concluded 100th AFM Convention was Resolution 20—“Extras and Subs in Orchestras”—a measure which sought to address the disparity in wages and working conditions that exists in many orchestral collective bargaining agreements for substitute and extra musicians, as compared to those of their seasonally-contracted colleagues.
The 100th AFM Convention became the forum for our delegates to organize around legislative and political issues that impact the lives of professional musicians. Delegates to the Convention stepped up in very real, tangible ways, committed to support our goal to keep government focused on the honest treatment of musicians impacted by legislation and regulations that might be harmful, if not kept in check.
Not enough praise can be bestowed upon Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee. The congressman took time on Father’s Day, June 19, to travel to Las Vegas from Mississippi to engage the delegates. He addressed our ongoing immigration battle over delays in P-2 and O-1 visas, filling the delegates in on the work he and his staff are doing with the AFM Office of Government Relations to address this complex issue.
Prior to his appearance at the Convention gala, the congressman met with AFM President Ray Hair and AFM staff to lay the groundwork for congressional action. Thompson was true to his word about resolving this issue as evidenced by ongoing meetings with his congressional staff and exchanges with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administrators.
It should be noted that resolution of this matter will be “a process,” not a quick fix, as his staff establishes a path toward a permanent solution. In his comments to the delegates and to the congressman, AFM President Ray Hair noted, “The AFM has no greater champion on the issue of repairing the broken P-2 visa process than Congressman Bennie Thompson. My long-term relationship with him and my family over decades underscores the fact that he is a man of means and great integrity. Congressman Thompson is very knowledgeable about, and has a wonderful appreciation for, music and the arts, as well as a heart of gold as relates to the plight of professional musicians struggling to earn a living. We welcome a man of his stature and superlative character into our house and pledge to do all within our power to assist him in his endeavor toward a resolution of this difficult issue.”
A discussion also took place over the importance of locals getting behind HR 1733, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act. Convention delegates were treated to a remarkably lucid presentation by SoundExchange President and CEO Mike Huppe. An independent nonprofit collective management organization,
SoundExchange collects and distributes digital performance royalties to featured artists and copyright holders. Huppe was able to clearly outline the nexus between the importance of a solid royalty stream to artists and the passage of the act. HR 1733 will provide a permanent royalty stream for current day musicians whose sound recordings are performed on AM/FM radio, as well as provide copyright law protection for artists who performed on pre-1972 recordings.
On the political front, special appreciation goes out to the AFM convention delegates, all of whom showed exceptional leadership by joining the AFM Signature TEMPO Campaign. This vital leadership campaign was developed as a platform for AFM officers and members to more actively engage in our legislative-political work. Signature Members participate in group conference calls discussing long- and short-range plans to create a stronger national legislative political base throughout the union. In addition to participation on strategic calls, Signature Members receive special TEMPO marketing tools, along with a monthly copy of The Atlantic Magazine to share with members.
We also thank AFM International Representatives and AFM TEMPO Coordinator Sandra Grier in Washington, DC, for the work they do promoting this special campaign. Convention membership increased exponentially due to their diligent monthly promotion of the campaign. Again, this is not just a fundraising drive but a strategic effort to boost AFM member participation in government affairs.
This year, convention delegates participated in the first AFM TEMPO sweepstakes. It replaced the AFM Convention raffle, giving all participants a chance at winning the grand prize. Winner of the sweepstakes piano was Local 34-627 President Don (Warner) Warmbrodt. Congratulations, Don!
Five TEMPO Achievement Service Awards went to locals that meritoriously participated in TEMPO fundraising over a three-year period between the 2013 and 2016 conventions. AFM Local 257 (Nashville, TN), led by President Dave Pomeroy, had the fifth highest level of contributions. AFM Local 9-535 (Boston, MA), led by President Pat Hollenbeck, achieved the fourth highest level of contributions. Local 47, led by President John Acosta, achieved the third highest level of contributions. AFM Local 161-710 (Washington, DC), led by President Edgardo Malaga, achieved the second highest level of contributions. The highest award went to AFM Local 6 (San Francisco, CA), led by President David Schoenbrun. We congratulate the outstanding work of these locals as we work to find ways to successfully integrate all AFM Locals into the TEMPO program.
New USFWS Rules on African Elephant Ivory
On July 6, 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) placed new rules in effect regarding the African elephant ivory ban that includes positive language for musical instruments. After more than a year, working in cooperation with our national ivory partners (League of American Orchestras, The Recording Academy, Chamber Music, American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, National Association of Music Merchants, and Performing Arts Alliance) we finally accomplished regulatory language that provides a level of comfort for musicians who own musical instruments with de minimis amounts (200g or less) of banned African elephant ivory, particularly musicians who wish to buy, sell, or otherwise trade instruments with de minimis amounts of banned ivory. Helpful new guidance from USFWS in the form of frequently asked questions is found on the website: www.fws.gov/international/travel-and-trade/ivory-ban-questions-and-answers.html, appropriately titled, “What Can I Do with My Ivory.” A more extensive review of these new rules and the AFM’s ongoing efforts to “do no harm” to professional musicians in every musical genre will be posted in the September International Musician. For additional information contact Alfonso Pollard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Lovie Smith-Wright, President of Local 65-699 and Diversity Committee Chair
The Diversity Committee had a full agenda at the 100th AFM Convention. Following is a summary of the committee’s activities.
As a follow-up from our 2013 convention, the first presentation of the Diversity Committee at the 100th AFM Convention was the Women’s Caucus, Monday evening, June 20. There were 28 delegates and guests present. The caucus lasted approximately 75 minutes.
Topics of discussion included interest in seeing a permanent subcommittee of the Diversity Committee to represent women. It would be tasked to come together in support of the union’s agenda on organizing, legislative-political work, and job actions. There was a desire to have a women’s caucus meet more often than every three years. It was noted that, since 2019 will be the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, perhaps a part of that AFM Convention might focus on womens’ contributions to the labor movement and society in general. Our gratitude goes out to Diversity Committee Member and Local 6 Secretary-Treasurer Beth Zare for organizing and chairing the meeting.
The next order of convention business for the Diversity Committee was the presentation of the 2016 Diversity Awards on Tuesday, June 21. The two awardees selected by a non-AFM committee of labor leaders were:
Ashleigh Gordon, recipient of the Charles Walton Diversity Advocate Award. Gordon is a member of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA). Congratulations to Gordon, Local 9-535 Pat President Hollenbeck, and members of the local.
Christian Vegh received the Charles McDaniel Youth Award. Vegh is a member of the AFM Local 566 (Windsor, ON). Congratulations to Vegh, Local 566 President Christopher Borshuk, and members of the local.
The committee met later to watch a Diversity Awards video produced by Assistant to the President and Director of AFM Freelance & Membership Development Paul Sharpe during the 2010 Convention. It includes statements from members of the 2010 Diversity Committee that provide insight for the newest members of the Diversity Committee. It also outlined the committee’s progress in an effort to create a bridge to where the AFM needs to go.
Committee members expressed their desire to organize around important issues that will further the advancement of the Federation. In an effort to create a contemporary roadmap, each committee member was asked to express what was important to them concerning diversity, so that we would have all concerns and issues on the table for presentation to the development subcommittee and to the AFM International Executive Board.
The Diversity Committee was very active in the 100th AFM Convention. Of special note is that the group, not only met as a committee, but several members of the Diversity Committee also served on the Law, Finance, Organization & Legislation, and Small Locals committees.
I was appointed earlier this year by AFM President Ray Hair to serve on the 2017 Planning Committee for the AFL-CIO MLK Civil and Human Rights Conference, sponsored by the Civil, Human, and Women’s Rights Division of the AFL-CIO. I was also elected as an alternate delegate to the AFL-CIO Convention.
A Development Committee was created as a subcommittee of the Diversity Committee. It is made up of the AFM Director of Diversity plus two members from each of the following: the original Diversity Council; the 2003 Diversity Committee, which became the first standing committee of the AFM; and the newest members since the 2013 AFM Convention.
The Development Committee will plan how to work and implement the ideas and concerns that have been discussed. Its focus will be on engaging musicians of color in all AFM jurisdictions. They will use the Diversity mission statement and position papers as guides so that the Diversity Committee remembers why it was created.
Members of the AFM Diversity Committee are: Director of Diversity Alfonso Pollard; Chair, Local 65-699 President Lovie Smith-Wright; Local 105 (Spokane, WA) Vice President Tina Morrison; Local 586 (Phoenix, AZ) member Madelyn Roberts; Local 802 (New York City) member Miho Matsuno; Local 5 (Detroit, MI) Secretary-Treasurer Susan Barna Ayoub; Local 6 Secretary-Treasurer Beth Zare; Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) President John Acosta; Local 369 (Las Vegas, NV) Secretary-Treasurer Keith Nelson; Local 174-496 (New Orleans, LA) President “Deacon” John Moore; Local 56 (Grand Rapids, MI) member Bennie Keys; Local 424 (Richmond, CA) Secretary Mike Sasaki; and Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) member Otis Ducker.
120 years after our founding Convention in October 1896 in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Federation convened its 100th Convention—a milestone for any union—June 20 in Las Vegas. With more than a century of advocacy and 100 conventions to its credit, the Federation’s enormous accomplishments for professional musicians, economically and politically, were celebrated not just by elected officials and delegates, but by our sister unions, dignitaries and guests. Continue reading
During June, the historic AFM 100th Convention took place at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. From pre-convention regional meetings to the swearing in of officers on the final day, the proceedings ran smoothly and were a true demonstration of solidarity.
Among the many guest speakers this year were: SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White; AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund Executive Director Dennis Dreith; Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle; Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) Trustee Dan Beck; General Secretary International Federation of Musicians (FIM) Benoit Machuel; and Executive Director Film Musicians Secondary Market Fund Administrator Kim Roberts Hedgpeth.
The various conference and association representatives—Theater Musicians Association (TMA) President Tom Mendel, Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) President Robert Fraser, Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) President Carla Lehmeier-Tatum, Recording Musicians Association (RMA) President Marc Sazer, and International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) Chair Bruce Ridge—addressed the delegates.
Among the topics discussed by delegates were recommendations and resolutions for proposed changes to AFM Bylaws to help the AFM better serve the needs of modern musicians. A total of 13 specially focused committees of delegates and AFM staff met to discuss and debate focused topics, concerns, and resolutions relating to law, finance, credentials, measures and benefits, organization and legislation, International Musician, public relations, TEMPO, small locals, election, good & welfare, diversity, and organizing.
Other convention highlights included reports from AFM staff. Director of Organizing & Education/Assistant to the President Paul Frank detailed recent and current organizing campaigns in Seattle, Fort Worth, and Washington, DC. A beautiful memorial service, held on the second day, honored AFM members and staff who have passed away since the last AFM Convention in 2013.
For the most part, “team unity,” led by AFM President Ray Hair remained intact after elections. However, Vince Trombetta stepped down as an International Executive Board member and John Acosta was added. Also, AFM Secretary-Treasurer Sam Folio will be replaced by current AFM Symphonic Services Division Director Jay Blumenthal.
As of August 1, the AFM International Executive Board will consist of President Ray Hair, Vice President Bruce Fife, Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert, and Secretary-Treasurer Blumenthal, plus board members Acosta (Local 47 president), Dave Pomeroy (Local 257 President), Tina Morrison (Local 105 vice president), Tino Gagliardi (Local 802 President), and Joe Parente (Local 77 President).
Look for detailed Convention coverage in the August International Musician.