Tag Archives: election

Election 2020: Your Vote is Your Voice – Be Heard

The 2020 federal elections hold the promise of a new normal for Americans caught in the vicious trifecta of an economic downturn, a debilitating public health pandemic, and an employment meltdown that has taken hold of not only our personal lives but, as musicians, has turned our industry completely on its head without the immediate promise of near-term relief.

As has been clearly delineated over the past six months, federal and local elected government officials hold the key to vital resources that are necessary to help the average American family and worker land on their feet. But political gridlock in Washington now requires every citizen to weigh in and compel our elected officials to work in tandem on behalf of their constituents and not their political party. The Constitution of the United States provides a clear electoral path for Americans to legally and effectively traverse the system.

Register, Vote In-Person or By Mail

Your vote is your voice! It is your way to exercise your right as an American citizen to “right the ship” and steer it into safe harbor. However, the system requires us to engage the process legally, and here are a few matters that you must engage in to ensure that your voice is heard.

Each state and county manages its own electoral process, and you must first check to see if you are on the voter registration rolls. As this is a federal election year, voters will not only elect state and local officials, you will have the opportunity on November 3, depending on your location, to vote for governors in 11 states and two territories, for members of the US House of Representatives in 435 districts, US Senate seats in 35 states, and for the President and Vice President of the United States.

The AFM recommends that you consult Vote.org to check/confirm your voter registration, register to vote, access vote by mail via absentee ballot, identify your specific polling place by name or address, sign up to be a poll worker, and if necessary, fill out your 2020 census form.

Using Trusted Sources

Much has been said about the security of your registration documents and your ballots, in particular the reliability of the United States Postal Service (USPS). The USPS has launched a special website at www.usps.com (https://tinyurl.com/y3x6jvqr) to answer questions about how it handles election mail. The site provides express information about mail timing, identification of your state election websites, handling of military and non-military election mailing, postage amounts, and the proper use of USPS mail/ballot collection boxes.

Many state election offices also have ballot drop boxes located outside of county election offices that are monitored regularly by election officials. You should feel safe using these facilities if you want to hand-deliver your documents.

What is at Stake?

Several issues important to musicians mostly covered in the House-passed HEROES Act, held up in the Senate, remain unresolved and require consensus among members of Congress: A resolution for multiemployer pension programs, mixed income unemployment insurance issues, restoration of above-the-line tax deductions, increased immigration fees on O and P visas, and safe reopening of cultural worksites with safety and health protections for musicians and other creative professionals. All of these will require cooperation and compromise between the House and Senate chambers.

These are the reasons that your vote should focus on electing representatives that will avoid gridlock, that will compromise and work toward resolution of these important issues. Let’s all use our voices to help get our industry back on track.

Graduate Students Fear Reversal on Unionization

Graduate student unionization efforts at private colleges have become more urgent following the election of President Donald Trump.

Even though in 2016 the National Labor Relation Board (NLRB) ruled that students may unionize, many fear that they will eventually lose that very right due to Trump’s appointment of two Republicans to the NLRB. The NLRB has a history of flip-flopping on the issue over the past two decades.


“… Indivisible …”

by Tina Morrison, AFM International Executive Board Member and Vice President of Local 105 (Spokane, WA)

My dear brothers and sisters to the North, please be patient, I’ve got a few things to talk about that are primarily a reaction to concerns very much on my mind since the US presidential election.

This article will be turned in first thing Monday, December 19, which also happens to be the day the electoral college will meet and finalize the outcome of this tumultuous US presidential election cycle. Even if there is some kind of unprecedented surprise, it won’t change what we’ve collectively experienced. We are entering a new year with additional new challenges.

As musicians, we don’t always like each other, but when we make music together, we have to listen to each other and blend our respective voices. Everyone loves good harmony; and although there’s real beauty in dissonance, there’s also a sense of relief when it finally resolves. Sometimes it takes a while.

With all of the “isms” that have been thrown around over these past months, I wear my unionism proudly because it takes all of our diversity and builds consensus to come to resolution. We develop consensus for our workplace negotiations, for decisions at our locals, and our Federation. It takes a lot of work, but it’s a great system for giving us a meaningful voice in decisions that affect us. By working together we have helped to create levels of fairness and safety in the workplace. Unionism lives and breathes because we are the union. “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

Unionism gives us a path on which we can find our way through interesting times. We have processes that enable us to work through tough issues and find solutions most of us can live with, most of the time. Unions are necessary to give working people a voice. Recent examples are the strikes in Pittsburgh, Ft. Worth, and Philadelphia.

Employers belong to groups and associations because they realize the value of networking and joining forces around issues and interests, the costs of which are usually covered by the business. We will need to actively oppose anti-union legislation at every level with a special eye on “right to work” (for less) legislation, which undermines our ability to push back.

Music blends many different cultures with themes and variations developed over the lifetime of humanity, but all of it has common threads of tones and rhythms. We care about our family and friends and want them to be safe, happy, and healthy; we want fair treatment and appropriate compensation for our work; we care about our communities; and we want future generations to have opportunities to thrive and live up to their full potential.

The “Ghost Ship” fire on December 2 in Oakland, California, is a wake-up call that there is work to be done regarding safe performance environments, which also support and encourage emerging musicians. “Mourn the dead and fight for the living.”

In this New Year, let’s resolve to listen to each other and blend our voices, embrace our diversity, and stand together against adversity.

… with liberty and justice for all …

Post-Election 2016

Building a Movement Toward Unity, Arts and Entertainment Unions Assess the Road Forward Under New Administration and Congress

In a broadcast email message to AFM members November 14, 2016, AFM International President Raymond M. Hair, Jr. put it succinctly, “… I am proud of our union’s efforts to elect national, state, and local representatives who are responsive to musicians’ issues such as performance rights, copyright reform, arts funding and advocacy, retirement security, and the offshoring of our jobs.” For the AFM International Executive Board, AFM locals, and the AFM Office of Government Relations, these issues have driven our congressional agenda for many years and will remain the AFM’s core legislative issues.

In an election filled with hope and starkly different ideological expectations for supporters of both presidential candidates, Republican Donald J. Trump emerged as the victor of the 2016 presidential race. Despite tough rhetoric from both sides during a long and hard-fought campaign, Trump managed to emerge on election night with 290 Electoral College votes vs. 232 Electoral College votes for Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. Though Secretary Clinton won the popular vote, it is the Electoral College that determines presidential winners and losers. It is important to note that, on December 19, 2016, the electors meet in their state to vote for president and vice president on separate ballots.

From the AFM’s perspective, I am happy to report that, thanks in part to many of you who consistently contributed to TEMPO and to those of you who worked persuasion and GOTV efforts in your respective communities, our records show that all of our congressional democratic and republican champions (TEMPO recipients) in Washington, DC, were re-elected. This is important because the foundation they helped us lay will remain in place, despite the need to build new relationships in President-Elect Trump’s White House.

For arts and entertainment unions and national arts organizations, the question is how do we move forward to continue building a movement that establishes a firm foundation for artists, particularly if our most reliable federal institutions come under fire? The answer is: continuous, growing, organized engagement. Over the years, and prior to the 2016 election, AFM locals have successfully engaged federal, state, and municipal legislators on issues that are priorities in their jurisdictions. That includes federal, state, and local legislative battles on film scoring, CITES, arts funding, organizing, and myriad other issues that impact the livelihoods of the musicians they represent.

The AFM Office of Government Relations will continue to meet with AFL-CIO affiliates and national arts organizations committed to legislative engagement in order to build on those efforts and create an internal movement that magnifies our voice in Washington, DC, at the State House, and on local government councils and boards. Our success is due to member participation and, over the years, the numbers of AFM musicians engaging these important issues has grown. To help build this movement, we have engaged 225 of our TEMPO Signature members on the issues. Their influence has helped grow this movement. In addition, we have successfully used the power of technology and social media to bring our message directly to our members.

Under a republican led congress and executive branch, organized labor has a number of issues for which we must remain vigilant. In arts and entertainment, we are concerned about renewed attacks on federal arts appropriations programs, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, and museum services across the country. Of critical concern also is the offshoring of AFM jobs, as well as economic justice for creators whose music is performed on AM/FM radio without a performance right.

Further, we seek growth in federal funding for arts-in-education and for the national expansion of STEAM education. Additional concerns include the right to organize, collective bargaining, civil and human rights, healthcare reform, pension reform, support for the National Labor Relations Board, the continuation of Davis-Bacon projects and contract labor agreements, as well as preservation of collective bargaining rights for private sector and public workers, particularly those working in federal, state, and municipal sectors. Copyright reform, along with the reintroduction and passage of the Fair Pay Fair Play Act, remains a priority for the AFM to help ensure performance rights for creators whose works are performed on AM/FM terrestrial radio.

But, what about the depth of change after the election? What is the real extent of government reorganization? In addition to the presidential race, Republicans also did well “down-ballot,” acquiring gains in both the US House of Representatives and in the US Senate. The 115th Congress will begin in January 2017 with 238 Republicans and 193 Democrats, while in the Senate Republicans hold a 51-2-46 margin over Democrats. This includes two Independent members Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who typically vote democratic.

Republicans also made gains in governor races across the country. Gubernatorial races were held in 12 states and two territories. They include American Samoa, Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. There were three GOP pickups in Missouri, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Three holds in Indiana, North Dakota, and Utah. There were five democratic holds in Delaware, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia. At this writing, North Carolina is still undetermined and Louisiana is still in a runoff set for December 10.

For AFM members, many issues in the US Capitol and in state houses across the country will have a direct impact on our ability to drive our artistic and employment agendas. The union has already begun a solid government-centric organizing program in which we invite all of you to participate. We will need your help at every level over the next four years and look forward to you helping us engage legislators on all the issues that keep the arts an integral part of our communities. I look forward to working with each of you. If you have questions about how you can help, please contact me apollard@afm.org or our TEMPO coordinator Sande Grier at sgrier@afm.org. Thank you for your commitment to our union.

AFL-CIO Commits to Mobilizing Women in 2016

Women make up more than half of the US electorate and vote at higher rates than men. From now until November, the AFL-CIO will be talking to women voters about the issues that impact them the most to ensure that women remain at the forefront of the conversation.

Today, the AFL-CIO Executive Council reinforced its commitment to advancing the rights of all working women and men—union or non-union—with the adoption of the Economic Agenda for Working Women and Our Families. The labor movement will continue to fight for equal pay, family friendly policies, high-quality education, and the right to negotiate better working conditions.

According to the AFL-CIO, “This year we are going to elect pro-worker, pro-woman, and pro-family candidates. Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination for president shattered the glass ceiling, and we stand behind her.”

To read the full Economic Agenda for Working Women and Our Families click here: www.aflcio.org/working-women-economic-agenda

Candidates Seeking Election for AFM Office

An important part of each AFM Convention is the nomination and election of international officers who will lead the organization during the next three years. Also elected are delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention. Article 19, Section 2 of the AFM Bylaws provides for the publication of campaign statements by those candidates who have declared their intent to run for office. No candidate is required to publish a statement and all candidates may at any time prior to nominations pursue an office other than the one identified below.


Raymond M. Hair, Jr., Local 72-147 (Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX)

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your president with this marvelous Unity Team. We’ve restored and maintained fiscal responsibility. With openness, activism, and real unionism, we’re negotiating and enforcing smart, progressive agreements. Through governmental advocacy, we’ve protected musicians’ interests and improved their lives. We’ve opened doors and found new rights money for AFM members, who make the music the world wants to hear. Difficult problems resolve with teamwork and Unity. Working together, we can preserve and protect our union and keep it strong, because we are stronger together. We ask for your vote. We are a winning team.


Bruce Fife, Local 99 (Portland, OR) President

It’s been an honor to represent and serve you as vice president of the American Federation of Musicians. Our union must remain strong and consistent in its leadership, provide the tools and support for our locals to remain vibrant, organize, and build our membership, and continue to strive for successful outcomes in critical local, national, and international negotiations. While we have not won every campaign, our team remains strong and our victories noteworthy. I ask for your continued trust, support, and guidance as we move forward and work together to keep our union strong and adaptive in this evolving industry.


Mark Jamison, Local 149 (Toronto, ON)

Canadian AFM members want to undertake a consensus-based review of AFM Canada’s activities that will serve the needs and aspirations of Canadian musicians. I was trained and worked as a symphony bass player and have had a successful career as an association executive leading media, business, and cultural membership organizations. With the skills, knowledge, and management success that I offer, as VP AFM Canada, I will help members identify approaches to key 21st Century contractual, regulatory, and professional image challenges and opportunities. I appreciate the encouragement of many members across Canada. It would be a privilege to serve you.

Alan Willaert, Local 149

The challenges facing Canadian musicians, and those of us who represent them, have increased exponentially over the last few years. Status quo is no longer an option, and we have therefore served notice to bargain on several large employers in the broadcast world. While this action will undoubtedly increase employment opportunities for members, the additional work involved is substantial. It has been my honour to serve as vice president from Canada, and I’m asking for the opportunity to continue, face those employers across the table, and finish what we started.


Jay Blumenthal, Local 802 (New York City)

Like so many of you, my 41 years of AFM membership has played a central role in my career as a professional musician. Every dollar the Federation receives to advance our mission is tied in some way to the work that you do as a professional musician. That’s why the spending of union funds must improve the lives and protect the livelihoods of our members. Creating a financially stable AFM while fighting for justice in the workplace, building solidarity, and educating our membership will ensure a stronger union for current and future members.


John Acosta, Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) President

It is with great humility that I announce my candidacy for the AFM International Executive Board. For over a decade it has been an honor to serve the amazing musicians of our great union. Together we have fought on the street and at the bargaining table, and on the IEB I will continue the fight for improved economic conditions and better standards for all AFM members. It is an honor to be part of President Hair’s “Team Unity,” the stabilizing force that has rebuilt our AFM. Music is our passion! Now let’s put the same passion into our union!

Joe Boettger, Local 542 (Flint, MI) President

Joe Boettger, President of Local 542, Flint, Michigan, intends to run for an executive board member seat on the International Executive Board. He will be a voice for post-industrial and small locals. He will listen to all Local leadership and advocate continually for them at the international level. He has a pragmatism and fortitude developed from surviving in one of the most hostile labor and human environments currently in the United States. Canadian artists often work in his jurisdiction and he will advocate equally for their concerns. AFM needs a person of this vision and understanding on the IEB now.

Tino Gagliardi, Local 802 President

Having been a part of a union that continues to transform itself through honest and open discussion about the challenges we face is rewarding and has benefited our union over the past six years. This collaborative, comprehensive model contributes to our standing at the bargaining table and continues to address the financial and organizational challenges we face. Working on behalf of all musicians, it is this administration that continues to foster and promote this environment. Please support the Unity Team so we may continue to improve the standards for our members and strengthen our union.

Tina Morrison, Local 105 (Spokane, WA) Vice President

Our union changed directions by electing this administration and then re-electing our team. Stabilization came first with much accomplished via a complex network of activities setting foundations for new relationships and future income streams for musicians in this global economy. We’ve faced many challenges together, however there is more to do. Certain paths became labyrinths but the goals set forth by our mission statement continue to guide us forward. I would appreciate your vote so we can continue the work of making our union inclusive and relevant to all working musicians.

Joe Parente, Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA) President

The last convention has given the Federation the tools to continue in the direction of improving the lives of all AFM members. The IEB has had to make difficult decisions in dealing with the problems we are all facing. With the confidence the last convention showed us, Team Unity will continue to represent our members in an effort to improve all of our lives as professional musicians. I am dedicated, as are all the Federation officers, to continuing to fight for the rights and welfare of all members of the AFM. I ask your support for re-election to the IEB.

Dave Pomeroy, Local 257 (Nashville, TN) President

It has been an honor to serve you as an IEB member for the past six years. I have been a working musician for nearly 40 years, and first got involved in AFM issues long ago because I saw a need for our union to “get real” and evolve with the times. It has not been easy, but the bottom line is that this team has made a real difference in how the AFM takes care of business for its members. We will always be stronger when we are united by our common goal of promoting respect for all musicians.  

George Troia, Jr., Local 5 (Detroit, MI) President

I, George Troia , Jr. announce my candidacy for a seat on the International Executive Board of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada. I am grateful to have been blessed with a with a multi-faceted musical career over the past 50 years, full of experiences that I believe to be valuable to the direction of the Federation in this new century. My primary goal in union representation is, and will always be, making life better for musicians. I humbly ask you for your support in this endeavor.

Is Wall Street Afraid of Sanders?

Wall Street is in a panic at the thought of a President Bernie Sanders, claims Stephen Schwarzman of the private equity firm Blackstone. In an article in the Wall Street Journal he blamed recent global financial trauma on the “market’s fear” that Sanders could be elected. Schwarzman, who has been openly critical of President Obama’s proposals to end the “carried interest” tax, leads the effort to privatize Social Security and has a history of incendiary rhetoric. For example, when an employee was killed at SeaWorld (Blackstone’s largest investment), Schwarzman claimed the veteran animal trainer broke multiple safety rules before she was pulled into a tank and killed by an orca.

What does Wall Street have against Sanders? For one, Social Security. Furthermore, experts say, decades of lording over the economy have allowed Wall Street to design policies that almost guarantee the failure of any financial regulation, which would protect the middle class.