Tag Archives: agreement

Ray Hair

New Three-Year Deal with Public Television

I am pleased to report that the Federation has reached an agreement with representatives of public television employers including the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), WGBH, WETA, WTTW, Austin City Limits, Sesame Workshop, and Thirteen Productions (formerly Educational Broadcasting Corporation) for a successor National Public Television Agreement. This new agreement will be effective upon ratification and will extend for three years from the date of ratification.

Our recent resolution of the commercial network television agreements formed much of the background for the negotiation of the National Public Television Agreement, which expired in 2019, just prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. We insisted that the producers follow the progressive patterns achieved in the commercial agreements and in agreements concluded by other unions so that musicians would see similar gains in any new agreement.

We concluded a forward-looking three-year deal that includes an immediate 4% wage increase, an additional 3% wage increase in the second year, another 3% wage increase in the third year, increased Health & Welfare contributions, improved provisions governing new media, and a 4% increase in clip use payments.

Specific improvements upon ratification include a per-day Health & Welfare contribution increase from $25 to $30 (a 20% increase) with a maximum weekly contribution increase from $125 to $150. In the second year, the per-day Health & Welfare contribution will increase from $30 to $35 (a 16.7% increase) with a maximum weekly contribution increase from $150 to $175. Additionally, in the third year of the agreement, the contribution per-day shall be the higher of either $35 or the then-current per-day rate prescribed in the AFM Television Videotape Agreement.

In recent years, new media platforms created battleground issues in collective bargaining for commercial television agreements not only for the Federation but for the other guilds as well. In this agreement, the public television employers were brought into alignment with guilds representing writers, directors, and actors. This applies to both programs made for traditional television broadcast and then exhibited on new media platforms as well as for programs that are produced for initial exhibition on new media (web-based internet platforms).

This agreement will, for the first time, eliminate a signatory public television employer’s option to avoid covering material produced for initial exhibition in new media, subject to certain programming exclusions. And it will require producers to share with musicians the revenue they receive from certain forms of new media exploitations. The producers will be required to share the covered exploitation revenues with musicians at the same rates as commercial television producers under the AFM’s TV Videotape Agreement (1% of distributor’s gross when consumers pay for subscription or per-program views).

The Federation now has the same made-for-new-media terms and coverage with public television that the other guilds have negotiated in their public television agreements. In future bargaining, new media issues will continue to occupy the attention of all the guilds as well as the Federation.

Public Television producers agreed to increase their contributions for paid permanent downloads (“download to own” or “electronic sell through”) to the percentages achieved in commercial television, from 1% to 1.5% of 20% of “distributor’s gross” for the first 100,000 units, and from 1.9% to 2.9% of 20% thereafter.

Although these rates are the same as the new commercial television rates, we believe that the payment provisions in this agreement are more favorable because they place the payroll costs of these exploitation payments (such as the employer’s share of social security contributions) squarely on the employers, instead of deducting them from the exploitation payments themselves.

Producers also agreed to the same provisions that are applicable to commercial television for exhibition of covered programs on secondary digital channels “diginet” by paying an aggregate sum equal to 2% of “distributor’s gross” to the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EPF).

In return for the gains described above, the public television employers demanded unacceptable expansions of their rights—including the ability to obtain fifth and sixth national broadcast releases upon payment of 25% of scale (currently 100%). They wanted us to permit reuse and/or simulcast of programs into radio under a distributers’ gross sharing scheme, which would have resulted in little or no payment, and they wanted to reduce subsequent program broadcast cycle payment percentages (currently 100% of scale) to 50% and lower. To these demands, we maintained a firm and unwavering reply of “no.”

This successor National Public Television Agreement brings public television employers into a collective bargaining agreement with progressive terms that establish a firm basis for future negotiations. Moreover, its terms align with those that exist in the broader television industries and that have been agreed to by all the relevant guilds.

I offer my heartfelt thanks to the negotiating committee and staff who worked hard and with great dedication to obtain favorable results. That negotiating committee consisted of Local 802 (New York City) President Tino Gagliardi; Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) President Stephanie O’Keefe and Vice President Marc Sazer; AFM Executive Officer and Local 257 (Nashville, TN) President Dave Pomeroy; AFM Executive Officer and Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL) President Terryl Jares; Electronic Media Representative Dean Rolando; Local 149 (Toronto, ON) Vice President Rea Beaumont; Local 9-535 (Boston, MA) President Pat Hollenbeck; AFM Executive Officer and Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) President Ed Malaga; Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA) President Ellen Trainer; Local 433 (Austin, TX) President Aaron Lack and Secretary-Treasurer Nicole Bogatz; AFM International Vice President and Local 99 (Portland, OR) President Bruce Fife; AFM Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert; AFM Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal; AFM Electronic Media Services Division Director Patrick Varriale and Assistant Director John Painting; AFM Director of Symphonic Electronic Media Deborah Newmark; and AFM In-house Counsel Jennifer Garner.

how to select the correct agreement

EMSD 101: How to Select the Correct Agreement for Your Project

The following list of questions is supplied for the purpose of ascertaining necessary information so that rates from the appropriate agreement may be provided.

We would like to preface these questions by stating that if the electronic media project involves a symphony, opera, ballet or chamber orchestra and has a collective bargaining agreement, you will need to confer with the Symphonic Services Division—at least initially—in order to determine the appropriate agreement.

If it is a live performance being recorded or taped, is there a live performance contract on file?

What is the nature of the project (music recorded for a CD release/download, commercial announcement, television show, motion picture, etc.)?

If it is music for a CD release/download, what is the approximate number of pressings/downloads? What is the approximate budget?

If it is music for a commercial announcement, is it for a national, regional, or local campaign?  Which medium (television, radio, Internet, etc.)? Will musicians be engaged on camera?

If it is music for a television show, which type of show (variety special, talk show, sports event or theme, documentary, sitcom, awards show, etc.)? Over which type of television will the show air (network, basic cable, pay cable, PBS, local television, etc.)?

If it is for a variety type show (talk show, awards show, etc.), what are the lengths of the show and rehearsals?  

If it is for a television movie, scripted episodic show, documentary for TV, sitcom, etc., will musicians be engaged on camera?

Will this be a project for the Internet (live performance pick-up), staged concert? Will it be one-time live stream, an on-demand stream, etc.? Will access to the stream be ad-supported or subscription based?

Will this be a made-for-new- media project? If so, what type of show is it, and over which new media platforms will it be made available (Netflix, Amazon, etc.)? Will the ability to view the show be ad-supported or subscription based?

In all instances, what is the name of the production entity and party responsible for control of the product?

how to select the correct agreement

Click here to download a PDF version of the above chart.

Alabama Symphony Orchestra Ratifies New Agreement

In August, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra ratified a new three-year contract agreement that began September 1, 2017 and is effective through August 31, 2020. The orchestra’s musicians are members of Local 256-733 (Birmingham, AL).

Wages remain the same this season, with modest increases next season and in 2019-2020, bringing annual salary to slightly more than $43,000 in the third and final year of the contract. Season length remains 40 weeks and the orchestra size of 53 musicians will continue.

The contract establishes 12 weeks of maternity leave, increases per-service pay for substitute musicians, and clarifies the makeup and role of the Artistic Advisory Committee—seven musicians representing all instrument sections, which will be a part of all discussions regarding concert series programming.

Introducing the New and Improved AFM Single Song Overdub Agreement

by Dave Pomeroy, AFM International Executive Board Member and President of Local 257 (Nashville, TN)

Calling all locals and recording musicians: the AFM Single Song Overdub recording scale can be a game changer for your local and its members!

This innovative concept is specifically designed for home recording, which—make no mistake—is happening all over the US and Canada. Affordable recording technology has permanently changed the world of making music, and in AFM locals of every size AFM members are recording in small studios, which are often located in their homes. Overdubs recorded and shared via the Internet have become commonplace, and this is the first AFM agreement to acknowledge this new business model. Sessions can easily fall through the cracks and not be covered by a union contract—especially in the world of indie recording. The Single Song Overdub  (SSO) contract is an easy-to-use, affordable, and convenient solution that is available to any AFM member.

What makes this contract unique is that the unit of commerce under this AFM agreement is the song—not the hour—and it is the only AFM recording agreement that allows the player to negotiate his or her own rate, with a $100 per song minimum. All pension and health & welfare (H&W) benefits are built inside the round number you negotiate; that’s another first.

For example, for each $100, there will be a $9.99 pension contribution, which is derived from the SRLA rate 12.81% of scale, payable by the musician. Members of locals with health plans will need to pass through the H&W amount to the local’s health plan. This computer friendly two-page employer agreement is a fillable pdf, which is completed by the player and sent to the employer, who only has to put an “X” beside the “I agree” box to execute the contract and enable the player to make their own pension contribution through their local. Most importantly, using this agreement ensures that, if a recording reaches 10,000 copies sold or is used in another medium, the player will be compensated accordingly and their intellectual property remains intact.

A scale worksheet included with the agreement lists the scale wages, pension, H&W, and Pay Pal fee for payment amounts of $100, $150, up to $500. Wages higher than $500 per song can easily be figured by addition or multiplication of smaller amounts. Up to 12 songs for one project in a six-month period are permissible under one agreement.

Multiple musicians can work under one agreement, if all musicians appear on all songs and everyone works at the same rate. The one exception is that the first musician to work under a signed SSO Agreement may charge a higher rate as the designated session leader for any upgrades or additional payments.

This scale can be combined with your local’s Limited Pressing Agreement, and the upgrade parameters are the same. When you have executed the agreement, done the work, sent the file, and received payment, you then file the contract with your local, along with your pension contribution. It will be submitted to the AFM Employer’s Pension Fund by the local.

The Single Song Overdub Agreement can be found at afm.org (in the “Document Library,” “Single Song Overdub” folder) and at nashvillemusicians.org (go to “Recording,” then “Scales, Forms & Agreements”). I recently made a short instructional video that explains how to use this agreement. It can be found on YouTube on the Nashville Musicians Association channel at https://

I hope that all of you who are recording for yourself and others will consider using this agreement to document your work and build your pension. As previously stated, this can be a game changer, but only if you use it! Otherwise, you risk losing all your intellectual property rights for the recording work you do. Once you’ve done it a time or two, it becomes easy to use. It can really make a difference for you, your local, and the AFM. Respect yourself and protect yourself!

Disney Workers Want $15 an Hour

The 38,000 unionized Disney workers remain without a new contract. Disney representatives have agreed the employees deserve a raise, but they have been unable to agree with the union as to the amount.

Currently, new Disney employees earn $10 per hour, but the union wants to raise average worker pay to above $15 per hour. Disney’s offer of a 5% raise over two years has been rejected by the union.

Steely Dan Co-Founder Sues for Control of Band

Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) member and Steely Dan co-founder, Donald Fagen, is suing the estate of his late, longtime musical partner Walter Becker in order to maintain control of the group and its name.

In 1972 when the band was formed, they signed an agreement that, upon the death or departure of a Steely Dan band-member, the group would purchase that member’s shares. Since around 1975, the group had fundamentally been a duo of Becker and Fagen accompanied by session musicians.

A few days after Becker’s death, Fagen received notice that the 1972 buy/sell share agreement was “of no force or effect.” He demanded that Becker’s widow, Delia, be appointed director or officer of the group, meaning she was also entitled to 50% ownership.

Fagen is seeking a ruling to uphold the buy/sell agreement as well as to require Becker’s estate to sell his shares of the group, along with damages.


LA’s Top Musicians

LA’s Top Musicians Organize Gatherings to Build a Stronger Union

by Marc Sazer, Recording Musicians Association (RMA) President and Member of Locals 47 and 802

Our AFM is in the middle of the first of two negotiations with Hollywood producers, working on the Live TV/Videotape Agreement with the TV networks and preparing for film/TV negotiations with the Hollywood studios. A key focus on both fronts is in the area—I should say areas—of new media. This covers everything from Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu to YouTube, CBS All Access, HBO Now, and HBO Go. It includes programs originally made for these platforms as well as shows brought to them from movie theaters and other media. These various streaming platforms represent the future, both economically and artistically. Paying close attention to the patterns of bargaining of our sister unions in the industry, we expect significant improvements in our coverage in these areas.

In an effort to reach out to our whole film/TV community, we have embarked on a series of intimate meetings where musicians open their homes for a collegial evening of food, drink, and PowerPoint. Our meetings are open to all AFM members and focus on two topics: tax credits and negotiations. Our goals are to motivate, educate, and learn from our colleagues. We’ve learned some important lessons.

We now have a strong sense of the need to understand how collective bargaining works—the nuts and bolts of negotiations. We’ve also found that many musicians are deeply interested in data and information about their own business. And, we’ve learned that, in an era of ongoing attacks on unions, “right to work” laws are frequently misunderstood.

Right to work means that musicians can work and enjoy all the benefits of a good contract—wages, job protections, pension, health care, administration of the contract, and upholding of the contract—without contributing a penny of dues to support the union’s resource-intensive work. The goal is to economically strangle unions, attacking their ability to work for members. Musicians know that we need our contracts. Our contracts can’t survive with a weakened union.

A key issue that our meetings address is: what makes us stronger or weaker in contract negotiations? We are dealing with multi-billion dollar multinational corporations; how do we walk in the room with a stronger presence? We are strengthened in our position across the table as we pursue tax credit legislative relief that would benefit both sides of the table. Also, we are empowered by close relationships with our sister unions, made visible by reciprocal observers at their negotiations and ours. Most importantly, good communication among us musicians is critical for a clear and unified negotiating stance. And yet, our musicians are clear about the flip side. Dark dates, musicians not being full members of our union, and internal strife weaken us at the bargaining table. We have to acknowledge both our strengths and our weaknesses.

In Los Angeles, the Recording Musicians Association (RMA) is working with Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) to amend the current California film and TV tax incentive program to specifically support music scoring jobs. It is unfair that scoring jobs run away to London and other overseas locations. It is also unfair that actors, writers, grips, electricians, directors, drivers, and others are at full employment, as a result of the California incentives, but musicians are left out in the cold.

This campaign for legislative relief has been broadly successful in helping LA area musicians pull together and find common ground. But we are committed to success on behalf of all AFM members. In our last film/TV contract, we helped the AFM win a provision that directs 1.5% of the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (our residuals fund) as an unallocated contribution to our US pension fund. As a result, more music scoring will mean, not just new pension contributions for participants on the job, but a substantial raise in the unallocated Film Fund contribution that supports everybody’s pensions. Our deeply researched data shows that this will bring in thousands of jobs, millions of dollars in wages and benefits annually, as well as an outsized return on investment for the state in the form of tax revenues.

These home meetings are in many ways the most satisfying and uplifting of the RMA’s tasks as a player conference of the AFM. It’s a great feeling to sit around living rooms with some of the most incredible musicians on the planet, learning from each other, hearing people’s thoughts, and sharing our research and experience. We are a conglomeration of truly amazing artists and human beings!

AFM Commercial Announcements Agreement Extended One Year

by Maria Warner-Dowrich, Contractor Administrator, AFM Electronic Media Services Division

I am sure many of you are aware that, in June, the AFM and representatives of the commercial announcements industry’s Joint Policy Committee (JPC) agreed to extend the term of the international Commercial Announcements Agreement for a one-year period, subject to the AFM’s ratification procedure.

This extension follows the term of the June 5, 2014 through June 4, 2017 agreement, where the AFM negotiated significant wage, pension fund, and health and welfare increases, revamped provisions pertaining to commercial announcements made for the Internet and commercial announcements made for traditional uses that are “moved over” to the Internet, and agreed to terms for creating a provision for commercial announcements made for all media uses (television, radio, foreign use, nonbroadcast use, and Internet) for a one-year period.

Given the success of those negotiations, it was decided that there was no immediate need for “across the table” negotiations. However, the one-year extension, which became effective June 5 and will run through June 4, 2018, includes a 2% increase in base wages. Use and reuse payments will continue to be calculated at the same percentage as in the 2014-2017 agreement.

The agreement has been ratified by an overwhelming margin of all eligible musicians whose votes were returned and counted by secret ballot. The ratification process was administered by the American Arbitration Association and was observed by Administrative Assistant in the Electronic Media Services Division Cecelia Gray and me.

Brief outline of the new basic session wages:

  • Side musician one-hour session rate: $129.75
  • Leader, contractor, single musician: $259.50
  • Music preparation rates increased by 2%
  • Copyists receive either the side musician rate or page rates, whichever is higher
  • Arrangers and orchestrators receive the leader rate or page rates, whichever is higher
  • Sideline musician eight-hour minimum: $219.30
  • Leader and orchestra manager: $438.60
  • Pension fund contribution: 16.5% of scale wages
  • Health and welfare: $26, plus 6% of scale wages         

A copy of the new Commercial Announcements Agreement wage summary can be found on AFM.org. Click “Our Musicians,” then “Recording & Digital Media.” Scroll down to Recording and Digital Media Resources and you will see a list of agreements to choose from.

We have notified the “me too” signatories to the 2014-2017 agreement of the one-year extension and we are distributing letters of acceptance so they can memorialize the terms of the extension.

If you have any questions please contact me at the New York Office (phone: 917-229-0233 or email: mwarner-dowrich@afm.org).

SEPTA Contract Details Revealed

Details of the contract agreement that ended the November SEPTA Transport Workers strike in Philadelphia have been revealed. The workers, members of Transport Workers Union Local 234, will receive 10.5% pay raises over the next five years, health insurance payments will increase from 1% to 2.5% of pay, and pension payments will increase 12.8% to 15.2%, depending on the years an employee has worked for SEPTA. Absent from the agreement were changes in break-time increments or downtime between shifts for “fatigued” workers which had been a talking point. The increased cost of $146 million over five years will be absorbed entirely within SEPTA’s existing 10-year budget with no additional public funding or fare increases required.

Transparent Agreement

Transparent Agreement Shows Pride for Musicians

Transparent Agreement

AFM Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) musicians, union officials, and JLC Western Region Executive Director Leslie Gersicoff leaflet outside a Transparent shoot March 29. The show’s producers recently agreed to sign an AFM agreement to cover its musicians. (Photo by Linda A. Rapka)

The AFM and Local 47 announced that an agreement has been reached with the producers of Amazon original series Transparent to cover musicians working on the show under a union contract.

Producers at Picrow swiftly agreed to sign on to the AFM television and new media agreement after musicians from the Los Angeles musicians union spoke out publicly late last month asking where was the pride for musicians, pointing out the unequal treatment of musicians who were not covered under a labor contract unlike all the actors, writers, directors, crew and other workers. 

The new contract covers the employment of professional musicians, arrangers, copyists, leaders, conductors, and sideline musicians, guaranteeing they will receive fair wages, benefits, health care, pension, and other union protections.

“We thank Transparent producers at Picrow for stepping up to treat musicians as equal workers,” says AFM Local 47 President John Acosta. “Musicians contribute as much to a production as all other workers, and we are happy that those working on the series will receive fair treatment, dignity and respect in the workplace.”