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AFM Diversity Awards

2016 AFM Diversity Awards: Recognizing Innovation and Union Building

The “Official Call” for Diversity Award nominations will appear in the October edition of the International Musician, as well as on AFM social media sites. In preparation, we will take a look at the role of diversity in our labor union and the process of recognizing members through the Diversity Awards.

Celebrating the diversity of the American Labor Movement is a cornerstone of virtually every AFL-CIO affiliated national and international union. The AFM Diversity Committee has the responsibility to monitor and assist locals while interacting with numerous outside labor organizations to strengthen the purpose and foundation of the labor movement by ensuring access for every American worker.

Several vital AFL-CIO affiliated constituency groups are in place to help us achieve our goals. The AFM has a long history of interaction with each of them. These groups include the AFL-CIO Civil Rights and Women’s Rights Department, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and Pride at Work. These national organizations help ensure that every constituent of the labor movement has a voice in organizing, governance, and politics.

AFM Diversity Awards

AFM Diversity Committee members outside the Riviera Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, last year. At that meeting were: AFM President Ray Hair, Director of Organizing & Education Paul Frank, Legislative-Political & Diversity Director Alfonso Pollard, Diversity Committee Chair and Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) then Vice President John Acosta, Local 5 (Detroit, MI) Secretary-Treasurer Susan Barna Ayoub, Otis Ducker of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC), Ernie Durawa of Local 433 (Austin, TX), Miho Matsuno of Local 802 (New York City), Paul Harwood of Local 406  (Quebec Musicians’ Guild), Local 174-496 (New Orleans, LA) President Deacon John Moore, IEB Member and Local 105 President (Spokane, WA) Tina Morrison, Local 40-543 (Baltimore, MD) Secretary-Treasurer Mary Plaine, Madelyn Roberts of Local 586 (Phoenix, AZ), Lovie Smith Wright of
Local 65-699 (Houston, TX), and Local 6 (San Francisco, CA) Secretary-Treasurer Beth Zare

The AFM Diversity Awards were created to recognize outstanding examples of diversity in the Federation. As an arts and entertainment union, our organization is immersed in talent from a strong demographic base that represents every musical genre. The work of our members is rooted in musical excellence and recognition that every musician brings a level of professionalism that is unparalleled throughout the international music community. The AFM Diversity Committee plays a key role in supporting that diversity. It recognizes the innovation of our members every three years at the AFM Convention. This is where we highlight the best of the talents we possess through our tri-annual awards process.

It is important to note that selection is designed as an open process. The final determinations are made by outside labor-affiliated judges. These neutral adjudicators review the finalists’ applications and select the winning candidates. It is imperative that, as the selection process progresses throughout the “call” period, the Diversity Committee and union officials do the broadest outreach possible. Members that devote time and energy developing union-building projects that lead to growth through organizing help solidify the platform that serves as the foundation upon which the longevity of our institution depends. Every member of the union should be notified of the program and selection process so that all members, regardless of ethnicity or cultural background, have a chance to enter their unique programs and offerings for consideration.

The 2016 awards process is currently being tooled to ensure that the “call” for submissions will be transmitted well beyond our usual communications platforms. Social media will play a vital role, along with information submitted to membership through the usual local communications regimens. The AFM Diversity Committee’s job is to reach out to every musician in our union so that each has equal access to the submission and selection process. Winners are invited to the AFM Convention June 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the awards ceremony will take place.

Over the years, past award winners were honored for a range of accomplishments. At the 2013 convention, the Youth Award for an individual under 20 years of age went to James Francies, Jr. This award was renamed the Charles McDaniel Youth Awards in memory of Charles McDaniel, a longtime Diversity Committee member and youth advocate. Robin Fay Massie-Pighee received the Youth Award for an individual between the ages of 21 and 35 years. The Charles Walton Diversity Advocate Award went to AFM Local 140 Secretary-Treasurer Edward Zebrowski in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and the President’s Award went to AFM Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA).

The AFM Convention is a time to look forward. Key issues facing member musicians are discussed and resolved. Officials are elected to ensure AFM’s continued longevity and success. But the convention is also a time to honor locals and members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty as musicians and local AFM members.

Applications for 2016 award nominations will be available this fall. The official call will be announced in the October International Musician. We encourage every local and every member to step forward and nominate those who are doing extraordinary work on behalf of the union and the communities they live in and serve.