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AFM 101st Convention

AFM 101st Convention Highlights

AFM 101st Convention

From June 16-20, the AFM 101st 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 demonstration of solidarity.

“We reclaimed, as we should at every convention, the meaning of unionism,” President Ray Hair said in his concluding remarks on the convention’s last day.

Among the many guest speakers this year were: SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator David White, AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund CEO Stefanie Taub, British Musician’s Union General Secretary Horace Trubridge, Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle, Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) Trustee Dan Beck, International Federation of Musicians (FIM) General Secretary Benoit Machuel, International Federation of Musicians (FIM) President John F. Smith, SoundExchange CEO Michael Huppe, Sound Recording Special Payments Fund Administrator V. Robert DiPaola and Film Musicians Secondary Market Fund Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth.

The various conference and association representatives—Theater Musicians Association (TMA) President Anthony D’Amico, Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) President Robert Fraser, Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) President John Michael Smith, Recording Musicians Association (RMA) President Marc Sazer, and International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) Chairperson Meredith Snow—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 and welfare, diversity, and organizing.

Other convention highlights included presentations on successful organizing campaigns from members of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra and the Boise Philharmonic Orchestra, a presentation on the power of union influence in fighting for fair pay by guitarist Jim Suhler, and much discussion on the AFM Pension Fund. And, of course, there were four days filled with great music by Federation musicians.

The talk of the convention was the management lockout of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) musicians, which occurred just days before the convention started. Delegates, locals, players associations, and regional symphony orchestras showed their support for their brothers and sisters in Baltimore by pledging nearly $100,000 in donations to the BSO musicians and to Baltimore Local 40-543.

A moving memorial service, held on the second day, honored AFM members and staff who have passed away since the last AFM Convention in 2016.

In the triennial Federation election, all of the international officers were reelected without opposition: President Ray Hair, Vice President Bruce Fife, Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert, and Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal. Joe Parente stepped down as an International Executive Board member and Ed Malaga, president of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) was elected to Parente’s seat.

Reelected to the International Executive Board were John Acosta (Local 47), Dave Pomeroy (Local 257), Tina Morrison (Local 105), and Tino Gagliardi (Local 802).

Look for detailed coverage on the AFM 101st Convention in the August International Musician.

Updates From the Secretary-Treasurer’s Desk

List of Locals

Recently the List of Locals booklet was updated and uploaded to the afm.org website. We are in the process of mailing hard copies of the 2018 booklets to all AFM locals. If you have not received your office copies yet, they should be arriving soon. Changes to the List of Locals are updated on our website regularly and are announced in the International Musician. Any changes to your local’s information should be sent by email to AFM Executive Assistant Nadine Sylvester (nsylvester@afm.org) with a copy to AFM Assistant Secretary Jon Ferrone (jferrone@afm.org).

Disney Campaign

The campaign to increase pay for many Disneyland workers is underway. It has been reported that some workers cannot make ends meet due to their low wages. Some of them sleep in their cars and shower at the park before starting their shifts. A coalition of unions, including AFM Local 7 (Orange County, CA), have been hard at work shining a light on this intolerable situation. To learn more, see the article by AFM Local 7 President Bob Sanders on page 12 in this issue of the IM.


AFM membership numbers continue to decline. At year end 2016 we had 69,386 members and at year end 2017 we had 67,540 (excluding multiple memberships). This represents a decline of 1,846 members. Declining membership remains a serious challenge. The more members we lose, the weaker we become as a union. Declining density has a direct correlation to diminishing power in the workplace. We must build our membership, if we are to remain healthy and strong. Resolution No. 1, adopted by the 2016 AFM Convention delegates states:

“… That the AFM implements and makes available an officer training program with the focus on membership retention and recruitment as well as general office procedures, as a means of combating declining Federation membership.”

The officer training program has begun its second year. Judging from exit survey responses, those who have participated in the training give it high marks. It’s too early to tell if the training program will have the desired positive effect on our membership numbers. Much of the results will depend on training participants putting into practice what they have learned from the program.

Purchase of a Floor for AFM Office

After months of negotiations with the seller of a floor within a building in lower Manhattan, the deal has fallen apart. We were very close, but at the eleventh hour, the seller walked. There are currently no other floors available for purchase in lower Manhattan that meet our space requirements. Purchasing space in midtown Manhattan is not an option due to the high prices. As you might imagine, this is very disappointing for both AFM President Ray Hair and me. We are exploring the possibility of leasing space in our current building (but on a different floor) or leasing space in another building. Our current lease expires January 2019.

Lester Petrillo Fund

A total of 48 recipients received a distribution from the Lester Petrillo Fund in 2017. These distributions totaled $20,025.

Hurricane Relief Fund

The Hurricane Relief Fund (for hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria) received $27,252.55 in PayPal donations, less $904.54 in PayPal fees, leaving $26,348.01. An additional $13,665 in check donations was received, bringing total contributions available for disbursement to $40,013.01. Disbursements to applicants in 2017 totaled $7,000. We continue to receive additional applications for hurricane relief and will continue to make disbursements in 2018.

Upcoming LCC/PCC Meeting

The Locals Conferences Council/Player Conferences Council (LCC/PCC) meeting will take place Saturday, June 16 and Sunday, June 17, at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas.

2019 AFM Convention

The AFM Convention will take place next year (2019) at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas. Registration will begin Sunday, June 16, 2019 and the Convention will adjourn Thursday, June 20, 2019.

Is Your Local Represented

Everyone’s Voice Counts: Is Your Local Represented?

joe-parenteby Joe Parente, AFM IEB Member and President of Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA)

In two months, the AFM will hold its 100th Convention in Las Vegas. Aside from being a historic event for the Federation, the convention will once again afford the opportunity for delegates to help shape the future of our union.

Since the last convention in 2013, the Federation has successfully negotiated most of its media agreements; collected money for musicians due them for violations under the Motion Picture Agreements; continued the fight for expedited visas, the ARTS Act, and for musicians traveling to this country; and supported the creation of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, which would require AM/FM radio to pay performance rights royalties. However, none of this would be possible without what is probably the most important factor—the Federation’s ability to maintain its financial stability.

Any success the Federation has had over the last three years have not merely been the result of the Federation itself. The AFM relies on each member of the union, through its locals, and in turn, through its delegates at the convention, to make decisions on resolutions, recommendations, and bylaw changes that will affect all members of the AFM.  These decisions establish the policies for the Federation going forward.

However, the reality is that we have had an increase in merged locals. And when we merge locals, we lose members. Not once in a while … not every so often … every time. Loss of members means less per capita for the Federation and fewer locals and delegates attending the convention, resulting in some members not being represented.

The number of locals attending conventions over the last 10 years has been steadily declining. Fewer locals, equal fewer delegates, and again, more members not being represented. I know some locals are experiencing financial hardships. I also know that all locals should be involved in the process of shaping the Federation in the future. Those two statements seem to pose a problem to which no one has an answer—at least not yet.

Everyone’s opinions count. Everyone’s ideas count. Everyone’s voice counts. We must find a solution so everyone counts!

Preparing for the 2016 AFM Convention: Make Sure You Are Represented

joe-parente speaking about 2016 AFM Conventionby Joe Parente, AFM International Executive Board Member and President of Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA)

The 2016 AFM Convention is less than a year and a half away. That may seem a long way off, but in reality, it will be upon us sooner than we think. Now is the time locals should begin preparing and making plans to attend the convention.

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