Tag Archives: ieb

The AFM Directive that Brought Our Pension Efforts to Fruition

It was truly a remarkable moment in the history of this, our musicians’ union, when after four years of dedicated lobbying and political wrangling, AFM International President Ray Hair stood before the International Executive Board (IEB) and unequivocally pronounced to all senior staff and board members that it was time for “all hands on deck” when pension legislation came up in January 2021. If you were in that meeting when President Hair made that pronouncement, for sure, you immediately “clocked-in” to that singular, most important mission.

After years of frontline lobbying and more than 50 visits to the House and Senate, President Hair, members of the IEB including AFM Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal, Tino Gagliardi, Dave Pomeroy, Ed Malaga, Bruce Fife, and I, laid the foundation that kept musicians in this protracted game that eventually, years later, led to our members’ remarkable advocacy efforts resulting in final passage of HR 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This $1.9 trillion COVID-19 recovery reconciliation bill is the largest piece of legislation in the history of this nation and included long-fought-for multiemployer pension relief, among other labor essentials that our union musicians need and deserved.

Additionally, there are plenty of remarkable stories from our our union members, dedicated Player Conferences, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), the Recording Musicians Association (RMA), the Regional Orchestra Players Associations (ROPA), and the Theatre Musicians Association (TMA), and their constituent members, local officers, and even our “stand up” TEMPO Signature members who took on President Hair’s directive and pushed “the big win” right over the goal line. This win can only be compared to the July 20, 2019 event when the AFM was invited to sit in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s box in the House chamber to experience first-hand the passage of the Butch Lewis Act! This was the first time in my experience on Capitol Hill that members of Congress stood and applauded organized labor.

The collage that follows here is a compendium of four years of concerted work in Washington, DC, Columbus, Ohio, and other locations AFM leadership traveled to help secure the future of AFM-EPF pensions. Each move brought us closer to our affiliate brothers and sisters at the AFL-CIO, the United Mine Workers, the Teamsters, the United Steelworkers, the bakers and confectioners, and a host of other labor unions that participated in the battle to preserve our pensions. We also thank the League of American Orchestras for their unique partnership in this effort.

The Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 is now the law of the land, becoming Public Law 117-2 on March 11, 2021.

March 28, 2017: Alfonso Pollard and IEB Member Ed Malaga attend House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) pension briefing on Capitol Hill.

May 9, 2017: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) launches his pension legislation plan on Capitol Hill with senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

November 16, 2017: Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi roll out the original Butch Lewis Act with the Teamsters on Capitol Hill.
November 17, 2017: AFM International President Ray Hair went to Washington, DC to lobby the US Senate on the Butch Lewis Act.

May 10, 2018: AFM Legislative Director Alfonso Pollard and International President Ray Hair in the Hart Senate Office Building lobbying on behalf of AFM pension legislation. The pair made eight visits that day.

July 10, 2019: AFM Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal, Washington, DC and Baltimore local officers, and Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal posed for a photo before going to the House gallery—at Speaker Pelosi’s invitation—to watch the Butch Lewis Act pass the House.
July 10, 2019: AFM Members rally at the US Capitol Building in support of the Butch Lewis Act pension legislation, on the House Floor that day.

July 12, 2018: Alfonso Pollard with United Mine Workers of America President Cecile Roberts.
July 12, 2018: Alfonso Pollard and IEB member Dave Pomeroy with AFM Local 103 (Columbus, OH) President Douglas Fisher.
July 12, 2018: Pomeroy performs an original song written for the Teamsters, mine workers, and steel workers 13,000-strong pension rally in Columbus, Ohio.

AFM International Executive Board Endorses Joe Biden for President

The International Executive Board of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) has announced its endorsement of Joe Biden for president in the 2020 election.

In announcing the union’s endorsement, AFM International President Raymond M. Hair, Jr. issued the following statement:  

“For musicians who are concerned about providing for themselves and their families, protecting their rights at work, being able to perform their job without undue political influence, and ensuring the security of their pay, benefits, and retirement, Joe Biden is the clear choice. The Federation joins with all Americans who want to see a nation that is united, that promotes inclusion and a vision for the future, and that honors and respects all of its citizens. And for these reasons, AFM is proud to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States.”

This presidential endorsement is based on Biden’s unswerving commitment to the hard-fought principles and ideals of organized labor. It was arrived at by a unanimous vote of the AFM International Executive Board, comprising International President Hair, International Vice President Bruce Fife, Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert, Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal, and Executive Officers John Acosta (Local 47, Los Angeles), Ed Malaga (Local 161-710, Washington, DC), Tina Morrison (Local 105, Spokane, WA), Terryl Jares (Local 10-208, Chicago, IL), and Dave Pomeroy (Local 257, Nashville, TN).

“The AFM is proud to stand with Joe Biden now as he seeks to unify and grow our country through responsible leadership,” Hair said.

AFM International Executive Board Votes to Endorse Biden for President

On Friday, August 7, the AFM International Executive Board (IEB) met by Zoom meeting to discuss the possibility of endorsing a candidate in the upcoming US presidential election. All IEB members were present for the meeting.

The IEB is very much aware that we have a diverse membership that has views that cover a wide political spectrum. Any endorsement of a presidential candidate is bound to be controversial with a portion of our membership.

As labor leaders, it our responsibility to share with the membership which candidate we feel will be the better choice regarding labor issues. Who will be the candidate most likely to support working men and women and the ideals of the labor movement? Who will be the candidate most likely to make appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that will hopefully result in increased NLRB decisions favorable to musicians? (Presidential appointments to the NLRB must be confirmed by the US Senate.) Who will be the candidate most likely to restore the fairness of the original social contract that served working men and women so well contributing to the creation of a robust middle class rather than the current failing low wage/low prices contract that has forced so many families into poverty? Who will be the best candidate to lead us through the pandemic crisis that has devastated musicians’ ability to go to work and make a living?

For these and other reasons, the IEB voted unanimously to endorse the Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

It Has Been an Honor and a Privilege to Serve on the IEB

by Joe Parente, outgoing AFM IEB member and former President Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA)

Fourteen years ago, as I packed my bags for the AFM Convention, I decided to run for the International Executive Board (IEB). As a local union officer and a long-time delegate, I had attended numerous prior conventions believing then, as I do now, that every local should attend the convention. My decision to run for the IEB was primarily motivated by my desire to fight on a larger scale for the rights and welfare of all members of the AFM, particularly small and mid-size locals, and a desire to participate in the process of strengthening our Federation and moving it forward.

That 2005 convention was both hectic and exciting. While campaigning for a spot on the IEB, I had the opportunity to speak with—and listen to—delegates from all corners of the AFM jurisdiction, hear about the concerns of musicians of every type and locale, and learn what an IEB member can do to help members and the Federation itself. To my pleasant surprise, I was elected to office and thus began my first of multiple terms as a member of the AFM IEB.

It has been my honor and privilege to serve on the IEB, and I am proud of all that has been accomplished over the past 14 years. However, after considerable thought, I decided to not run for re-election and to step down at the conclusion of my current term.

If I had to boil down my parting message to one word it would be this: Participate. It is critically important for every local to participate in and attend the convention. I worry about the decline of locals attending the convention and various conferences. Every musician should have a voice in the AFM, but that can only happen if locals participate and delegates speak up. When locals decline to attend the convention, the result trickles down to its membership—the members of an absent, non-participating local have no voice in the important policies and procedures discussed and agreed upon by delegates that guide the business and actions of the AFM.

If I had to boil down my parting wish to two words, they would be these: Maximum participation. It is my wish that every local sends a delegate to every future convention. That is core to the unity of our membership and for the AFM to thrive. The Federation gets its strength from its locals, and every local and member benefits from a strong Federation.

While I am embarking on a new stage of my life, this is more of a “see you later” than a “goodbye”: I remain available to help my fellow musicians and AFM members—I am only a phone call or email away. I wish all of you, the incoming IEB and the AFM, a future of success, prosperity, and progress. Thank you for an incredible and gratifying experience.