The following is a synopsis of my office’s recently submitted 2015 Annual Report.
At the close of business 2015, I was pleased to report income over expenses of more than $1.3 million. This is the fourth year that the AFM has net income of a million. AFM Comptroller Michelle Ledgister and her staff are to be commended for keeping Federation finances on track, while working extremely short-handed.
In 2015, we started a payroll service. This service will bring funds to our members on a more timely basis, while providing an easier billing system.
New use payments are increasing. This trend is expected to continue exponentially as the AFM anticipates future growth. Payments from the AFM SAG-AFTRA fund are more than $350,000. We expect the AFM-SAG AFTRA fund to grow to $1 million in 2016. Local 257 (Nashville, TN) member Bruce Boudin is a rank-and-file trustee carrying out his responsibilities as trustee, even while on tour. AFM President Ray Hair is co-chair of the fund and I am a trustee and chair of the investment committee. Delegates to the AFM Convention should look for the AFM SAG-AFTRA booth. You and your members may have money waiting for you.
In 2015 we saw the visa opinion letters grow to an all-time high of $1.6 million.
While funds grew, membership shrank, but only by 1,400 during the last year. In 2005, when I was elected secretary-treasurer, we were losing more than 10% per year. Fortunately, over the past few years, that trend has slowed.
I believe this is in part because of our online presence. This is evidenced by statistics from AFM IT Department Information Systems Manager Walter Lopez. More than 5,000 members have joined the AFM online.
I want to compliment Lopez, Information Systems Support Manager Michael Ramos, and Programmer/Developer Gary Goode for completely updating our computer systems as that was sorely needed. The IT department has really stepped up to the ever-growing technology demands of the AFM and its locals, as well as the increasing IT expectations of our members.
Cindy Pellegrino continues to keep staff on track as administrator of the Human Resources Department of the Federation. Pellegrino oversees and negotiates various insurance contracts, fields grievances, handles internal labor relations and employee discipline, as well as providing general good cheer.
At the close of 2015, Lew Mancini ended a legacy with the AFM. Mancini, my assistant secretary and the AFM’s chief operating officer, retired, leaving a void in our hearts and minds. Mancini and his family’s history of work for the AFM goes back to the ’40s. Mancini’s father-in-law, Bob Crothers, provided Mancini with a model to follow that will never be replaced. I really miss Mancini.
My assistant, Nadine Sylvester, is my alter ego and confidant, as well as the rudder on our AFM vessel. Sylvester continues to be the editor of the List of Locals directory and works closely as the liaison for Union Privilege and Mercer on the various programs that they have to offer our membership.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Mailroom Administrator Dennis Pitkofsky. He provides a valuable service to all staff and members. The mail must go through and Pitkofsky is our guy.
It’s a pleasure for me to walk into the office as Judith Vizueta epitomizes the word reception, as she greets staff and guests as they enter Suite 600. It is a pleasure to come to work and see Vizueta’s smiling face.
New Insurance Provider
I am pleased to announce Take1 as a new approved insurance provider. Take 1 specializes in protecting touring entertainers, music tours, outdoor festivals, live events, and professionally managed bands by offering a broad range of insurance products. Their mission is to become the insurance program of choice for those who need a solution provider to help sort out the often complex and specialized insurance needs of the entertainment industry.
We will soon be launching a survey with Take1 so they can better gauge the insurance needs of our member musicians.