Tag Archives: insurance

2018 Brings Group Health Insurance Plan and New Members to Local 257

Local 257 (Nashville, TN) President Dave Pomeroy (left) worked out a deal with RJ Stillwell of Sound Healthcare to offer reduced rate health insurance to Local 257 members who live in Tennessee.

In December, AFM Local 257 (Nashville, TN), working with longtime health insurance advocate RJ Stillwell and his company Sound Healthcare, introduced three Blue Cross Blue Shield group health insurance plans available to members. The plans are all ACA compliant—one HSA qualified bronze plan and two silver plans.

“The rates are very competitive and much better than most options out there,” says Local 257 President Dave Pomeroy. “This is something we have been discussing and working on for a long time. We are very excited it has finally come to fruition.”

This unique and exclusive plan is only available to Local 257 members in good standing who live in Tennessee. Because the Blue Cross Blue Shield network we are using is a nationwide PPO (Blue Network P), it will be especially helpful for touring musicians, as many marketplace ACA plans do not have coverage outside your local area, unless you have a life-threatening emergency.

Local 257 is also offering a reduced rate to join or reactivate during the membership drive in progress now through the end of March 2018. Currently, new and returning members can waive the local and Federation initiation and reinstatement fees when joining Local 257.

The combination of the 2018 membership drive and the new health care plan has resulted in a dramatic increase in member applications since the announcement in mid-November, with more than 100 new members already signed up. This member benefit is one more tangible thing that the Nashville Musicians Association offers its members. For many who have been on the fence about joining in the past, this is already proving to be the tipping point to finally join the AFM.

As our membership numbers increase, so does our collective voice, and this creates the rising tide that lifts all boats. Solidarity rules!

Steelworkers Strike at PTC Alliance

More than 200 workers at PTC Alliance went on strike August 18 at the end of their second shift after negotiations failed between the company and United Steelworkers Local 3059. Among the sticking points were the increased cost of insurance and the fact that the workers have not received a raise since July 2016, when there was a 40-cent across the board increase. Picketers at the Alliance, Ohio, plant are on duty 24/7, in four-hour shifts. According to Local 3059 President Jack Clouds, salaried employees are working the factory and keeping production going.

When You Need It, a Safety Net with MusiCares

For the growing number of music professionals without basic medical coverage—and with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in flux—MusiCares is a much-needed resource, which works closely with a dedicated group of health care professionals through its medical network. Services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical, and personal emergencies. Each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. The network also addresses human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community.

Addiction and Recovery Services

The MusiCares MAP Fund provides financial and supportive assistance for music people in need of addiction recovery services. Inpatient treatment is the first step toward long-term sobriety, but the most challenging work comes when clients leave treatment and become entrenched in their daily lives. Now clean and sober, they must manage the triggers, temptations, and lifestyle. They are again faced with bandmates or friends who are still using, schedules that are erratic, and clubs and venues that are redolent of their former lifestyles and almost daily cues to use. To assist clients in recovery, MusiCares offers a variety of free recovery support groups in many states and cities, including Los Angeles, Nashville, Austin, New Orleans, New York City, and Seattle.   

Emergency Financial Assistance

At the core of MusiCares is the Emergency Financial Assistance Program, which provides critical funds for music people struggling with financial, medical, or personal crises. This program offers financial assistance for medical expenses, addiction recovery treatment, psychotherapy, and critical illnesses. Support is also available for living expenses.

This program is available to music people who have experienced an unavoidable emergency. Eligibility consists of documented employment in the music industry for at least five years or credited contribution to six commercially released recordings or videos. Documentation can be provided in a variety of ways (liner notes, contracts, check stubs, brochures and flyers, newspaper articles, etc.). Each region has its own toll-free help line: (800)687-4227 (West Coast), (877)626-2748 (Central), and (877)303-6962 (Northeast).

MusiCares also has resources for individuals affected by natural disasters. The website has a list of resources for services, shelter, food, and other assistance. Musicians and other professionals in the music industry can qualify for housing, goods, instruments, equipment, or employment.

For more information and addiction help resources, call (800)687-4227 or visit the website at MusiCares.org.

Petty Honored as 2017 MusiCares Person
of the Year

Earlier this year, Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) member Tom Petty was honored as the 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year. Petty was selected in recognition of his significant creative accomplishments, his career-long interest in defending artists’ rights, and the charitable work he has undertaken throughout his career, which has often focused on the homeless.

The three-time Grammy winner has been inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His approach to the music business and record making has earned him respect among his peers, as well as younger musicians coming up in the industry. He has a reputation as a musician who looks out for other musicians.

“I am so very pleased to be honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year. I have so much respect for this organization, which really does care about the people in our industry,” said Petty. “I myself know many people who MusiCares has aided in desperate situations. Again, let me say this is a true honor.”

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.

Health Care Open Enrollment

Don’t Miss Health Care Open Enrollment Now Through January 2017

Did you know that an unexpected trip to the hospital could cost you and your family more than $2,000 a day? The hefty price tag does not even include prescription drugs or medical procedures, which easily can add up to tens of thousands of dollars. Medical bills are the leading cause of all bankruptcies in the US. Health insurance can protect you from an unexpected financial hit due to accident or illness.

Not only that, as of 2014, you are required to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. The period to shop for and switch coverage for next year, November 1-January 31, 2017, has just begun. Even if you already have coverage, you might want to re-evaluate your current plan.

Reasons to re-evaluate your current plan:

• It costs too much.

• It does not provide the coverage I (or my family) need.

• Your current health insurance company does not pay medical bills quickly and efficiently.

• Your current health insurance company does not provide good customer support.

• You do not have dental or vision coverage.

Plans fall into four categories, from lowest cost/least coverage to highest cost/most coverage they are: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Coverage also varies based on category, provider, and geographic area. If you feel confused when it comes to comparing plans, you are not alone. That’s one of the reasons the Working American Health Care (www.workingamericahealthcare.org) was launched.

AFM members and their families are eligible to shop for a plan through Working America Health Care. In partnership with Working America and Union Plus, AFL-CIO affiliate Working America Health Care connects union members to quality health insurance. The plans available through the marketplace include important consumer protections that meet or exceed coverage requirements to avoid the tax penalty. Unbiased, licensed professionals at Working America Health Care can help you:

• Figure out if you qualify for financial help in paying for a plan.

• Identify plans available to you in your geographic area.

• Evaluate plans to find the best fit (cost versus coverage) for you and your family.

Once signed up with a plan, you can access additional vision and dental discount programs. (Call 1-877-570-4845 or visit: workingamericahealthcare.org/why-working-america/dental-and-vision-coverage).

In addition, Working America Health Care Advocates (available 24/7) can help you coordinate medical care, locate the right providers, explain conditions and treatment, resolve claims, and answer coverage questions. Best of all, these advocates will help you understand your coverage and protect you from being wrongly charged or over-charged.

Protect Your Equipment

Protect Your Equipment: The Right Insurance Policy Makes a Difference

by Marcus Paxton, Managing General Agent, Entertainment Division, Take1 Insurance

As a professional musician, you have most likely invested heavily in both your career and your instrument. Your equipment needs to keep you performing at a peak level every time you take the stage or enter the recording studio. As a result, you do everything possible to make you’re your instruments are protected and maintained. But, when it comes to insurance, many musicians simply assume that their standard homeowner’s policy is all that they need to protect their investment.

Put simply, musicians should take the time to ensure their equipment investments are protected against the unexpected. Fire, flood, or theft can impact your livelihood. Many musicians rely on standard homeowners coverage, when specialized business insurance is better suited to protect valuable instruments.

Homeowners insurance is designed to protect the home and its contents when used as a house. Many personal policies actually exclude coverage should a claim arise and there is a business exposure in the home (recording studio), or if the equipment is damaged in a paid performance. Home insurance companies will often agree to cover a music studio in the garage, when alerted in advance. However, the additional premium they charge may end up being more expensive than obtaining a specialized policy to cover the equipment.

Look for commercial insurance carriers with expertise in the entertainment industry to provide enhanced policies designed with the professional, traveling musician in mind. These carriers have a dedicated claims staff that understands the difference between a keyboard and a soundboard. Policies provided by such carriers can provide not only coverage of the cost associated with replacing the damaged or lost equipment, but also coverage of additional expenses such as expedited the delivery of the new instrument to a performer’s next venue, if the artist is out on tour. 

Specialized entertainment insurance carriers can also evaluate your business for gaps in current coverage. Coverage from a homeowner’s policy often excludes claims arising from touring activity or even something as common as theft of equipment from an unattended auto. Insurance should be in place to safeguard artists when a third party is injured, or the property of others is damaged, as a result of a performance, or equipment failure. For example, equipment plugged into the venue’s power supply may start a fire, someone might trip over an artist’s electric cable, or a drumstick tossed into the crowd could injure a spectator. These are just a few examples of claims that can occur with touring entertainers—claims that might not be covered by a standard policy.

So, when it comes to protecting the artist and the artist’s equipment with insurance, take the time to review your current policy with an entertainment industry professional who understands the real world challenges that touring professional musicians face every time they take to the road and go on tour.

Marcus Paxton Marcus has more than 18 years of professional experience in the insurance industry with expertise in the area of entertainment industry insurance. If you have additional questions about obtaining insurance for your business you can contact him at: Marcus.Paxton@take1insurance.com

Assistance for Union Plus Storm Victims

Union members who participate in Union Plus programs (credit cards, insurance, mortgages, etc.) and live in areas impacted by the recent severe storms and widespread flooding in Texas and Oklahoma, may be eligible for financial assistance. Disaster Relief Grants of $500 are available to help participants who live in Harris, Hays, and Van Zandt counties in Texas, and Cleveland, Grady, and Oklahoma counties in Oklahoma and are facing financial hardship due to this devastating natural disaster. The money does not have to be repaid.

To qualify for a Union Plus Disaster Relief Grant, a union member must:

  • Have been a victim of the severe weather in counties designated by FEMA as qualifying for individual assistance.
  • Have experienced a significant loss of income or property within the last six months due to the disaster.
  • Have had a Union Plus Credit Card, Union Plus Insurance policy, or Union Plus Mortgage for at least 12 months with the account or policy in good standing (be up-to-date on payments).
  • Describe his or her circumstances and document the income or property loss.

To apply for a disaster relief grant, Union Plus participants can call: 1-800-622-2580 (Union Plus Credit Card) or 1-800-472-2005 (Union Plus mortgage or insurance: 1-800-472-2005).

Union Plus Mortgage and Credit Card holders may also be eligible to receive payment extensions or other special help.