Tag Archives: government

Legislation Ends Ontario College Faculty Strike

A five-week college faculty strike in Ontario was ended when the government passed back-to-work legislation. The strike, which began on October 16, brought 12,000 workers from 24 colleges to the picket line in hopes of gaining job security.

About 80% of college faculty members are part-time workers being paid less than their full-time colleagues with far fewer benefits and little job security. Collectively represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), the workers were demanding academic autonomy and longer contracts.

OPSEU is challenging the Ontario government’s Bill 178 back-to-work legislation in court, and disputing this blatant trampling of labor rights that forced the faculty back to work on November 21. Ironically, on November 22 the government passed Bill 148, which improves certain labor standards.

Second Dudamel Tour Canceled

The Venezuelan government has now cancelled two Gustavo Dudamel led tours after the Venezuelan conductor spoke out against the harsh government crackdowns this past summer.

Last month, the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela tour to the US was also canceled. In October, just one week before the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela was to embark on an Asian tour, government officials of President Nicolás Maduro canceled it.

In a statement, Dudamel called on the orchestra players to, “remain strong and proud.” Dudamel is music director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, members of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA).

Iran Raps Its Propaganda Message to Young People

Recently, Iran’s state controlled media has begun launching videos that feature rappers delivering their propaganda messages. In one such video, a well-known Iranian rapper sings on the deck of a navy frigate. Another raps about Iranian power; flags are waving in the background while soldiers sing along and stomp their feet. A sign of the times, Iran’s propaganda machine realizes that it must embrace the latest trends and technologies in order to reach the new generation of young adults.

Trump Administration

What the Trump Administration Means for Musicians

by John Acosta, AFM International Executive Board Member and President of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA)

With many voters, pundits, and pollsters still recovering from the unexpected results of our last presidential election, I find that it is critical for us to focus on what this means for our union and how it may impact our members. There is no doubt in my mind that the focus by the trump administration to gut the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) will leave many musicians exposed to the whims of an avaricious health care industry and without the safety net provided by the ACA.

While the ACA was far from perfect, it did expand health care coverage for millions of Americans who would not otherwise be covered. In California, we are not taking the attacks on the ACA lightly. AFM locals in California are working with labor and community coalitions to not only protect our health care—but to go one step further—by expanding health care into a single-payer model or universal health care, much like we find in most of the first world.

With a new administration in Washington, DC, we can also expect attacks on labor itself with a less friendly, if not overtly hostile, National Labor Relations Board and legislation that seeks to gut a union’s ability to collect dues by enacting a national “right to work” law.

Now, you may ask, how does this affect me? Well, if you’re in a symphony, you may see more aggressive acts by management to violate your CBA. If members of your symphony orchestra are no longer required to pay their dues, you will have a less effective union with a weakened ability to represent you at the bargaining table or in grievance and arbitration proceedings. Recording musicians may see employers reinterpreting the agreements under which you work and dispensing with age-old practices that were unwritten but accepted industry wide.

Now don’t get me wrong, we should approach the new administration in Washington, DC, to find common ground. President Trump has stated that he wants to help American workers keep their jobs in the US. This is a concept we can get behind. We have already begun discussions about how we can best support this initiative as it relates to runaway scoring and recording.

The idea of placing tariffs on intellectual property produced outside of the US, making it less desirable for companies to outsource musician jobs, is something we hope to urge the administration to incorporate into Trump’s job creation program. Whether we will be received positively by the Trump Administration is still an open question, and whether there is enough common ground to make the next four years productive is yet to be seen.

As our former President Obama stated in the waning days of his presidency, “The best days are still ahead.” I believe this. We must continue to organize internally and externally, while we remain vigilant in the fight for better wages, working conditions, and dignity on the job.

Building a Partnership with Municipal Government

Conversation leads to common goals and the strength to preserve live music.

“We are only as strong as we are united,” said New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, shortly after his re-election at the NYS AFL-CIO Convention August 22. Naturally, I couldn’t agree more. Musicians need to stand together, if we are to fight against the exploitation of our work and the continued degradation of live music. In solidarity and partnership, there is power.

That lesson should not be applied solely to our membership and our organizing efforts, but  also to our advocacy and partnership work with municipal governments and agencies. By building strong relationships and cultivating new allies and partners, we will identify opportunities to ensure that our towns, cities, and states are places that musicians can create music, while also affording to live and raise a family.

The rewards are great, and it always starts with a conversation.

Here in New York City, we recently had the opportunity to start a new conversation with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) when Commissioner Julie Menin was appointed to lead the agency in March. Though we already had a minor relationship with Commissioner Menin prior to her new appointment, we thought it of vital importance that we extend a hand as she settled into the role. Since that initial meeting the relationship has flourished.

We explained the intricacies of the music industry and the challenges musicians face—from misclassification to affordability, real estate, and the difficulties new technologies present to intellectual property rights. After she detailed her office’s assets and discussed her agenda, it became clear that we shared multiple goals and priorities. We both wanted to bring live music to more people throughout the city, and we both agreed it is vital that live music performance flourishes.

From that point forward, the staff of Local 802 (New York City) and the staff at MOME were able to work together on MOME’s Broadway in the Boros initiative, an unprecedented project to bring Broadway performances to public spaces outside of Manhattan, thereby expanding access to the excitement of Broadway and the power of live music.

From the beginning this was a complicated project; there was no model to follow. Which contract was applicable? Who was producing the show? What constraints do procurement laws place on the payment of musicians? Who should be hired and who is contracting the performances?  All these questions had to be ironed out. But, because of that initial conversation, the team at Local 802 and the staff at MOME were able work stronger together; we knew we shared common goals and could trust one another’s intentions.

Today, the initiative has drawn to a close and we are working with them to agree to a long-term contract in the event that they choose to expand the program to future summers. We certainly hope they do because, not only did this program bring live music to new audiences and new communities, not only did it pay fair wages and contribute to pension and health benefits, but it was an initiative that will serve as an example that municipal governments and agencies can follow in the future.

Musicians are stronger when we are standing together, and even more so when we have allies and partners to stand alongside. When you can find a shared goal, like the preservation and promotion of live music performance, partnerships can flourish!