During the last hurricane season, many will remember the three devastating storms that hit Texas (Harvey), Florida (Irma), and Puerto Rico (Maria). Pictures on the news showed the flooding and destructive wind damage that left many residents reeling from these storms. Homes, automobiles, and personal possessions were heavily damaged, not to mention musical instruments that were destroyed. Venue closings resulted in lost work for musicians. These hurricanes killed hundreds of people and caused more than $200 billion in damage.
Once every four years, elected delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention gather to elect the AFL-CIO Officers and Executive Council. Our AFM delegation consisted of AFM President Ray Hair, Local 65-699 (Houston, TX) President Lovie Smith-Wright, and myself. Unfortunately, due to a death in her family, Lovie was unable to attend.
AFM members from Local 2-197 (St. Louis, MO) entertained the delegates as they filed into the hall to take their seats before AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka banged his gavel bringing the convention to order. Members of the St. Louis local also played for various receptions throughout the convention.
Now that the floodwaters of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have receded and the focus of the press has moved on to other topics, AFM members affected by the storms are beginning to put their lives back together. We all sat horrified as we watched storm surge waters inundate businesses and residential communities, collapse buildings, and float cars and trucks as the hurricanes made landfall and worked their way inland. I can’t remember a time when three category 4 or 5 hurricanes followed so closely on the heels of one another.
The AFM mission guides our actions and helps keep us on course. It serves as an important reminder as to why our union exists. Putting our mission into practice improves the lives of all musicians. Therefore, it makes sense that the important voice of our union (the IM) should support our AFM mission when broadcasting our message. When our message is consistent with our mission, it helps us speak with one voice.
The IMEB has committed itself to making the IM a publication that reflects our membership, which is diverse in many ways. Musical diversity—various genres, instrumentalists, composers, orchestrators, conductors, and copyists all make up our large and beautifully diverse membership. Race, gender, nationality (Canada, US, and Puerto Rico), religious, political, cultural, and workplace diversity play a vital role in our mission. The IMEB believes our monthly publication should reflect this diversity, thereby following our national rule of law and generating interest for all members. By understanding and celebrating our differences, we become a stronger union.
I am not suggesting that the IM has not celebrated diversity in the past. It has, but the IMEB is now focused on efforts to foster the concept that together “we are the union.” As part of our renewed dedication to building a stronger union, we are surveying the membership about the IM to better understand your likes and dislikes. The survey will ask if you read the paper, and if not, why not. We also want to know what you enjoy reading in the IM and what articles you typically skip. And, of course, we want to know how we can make the IM better by making it more relevant and meaningful to you.
An important role of the IM is to inform and educate the membership. Often we want to become more involved in the things that directly affect our lives, but don’t know where to begin. Knowing what’s going on is important and is a first step to getting involved and participating in union affairs. A union needs an involved membership if it is to be a functioning, democratic organization that can influence policy and make positive change.
I truly hope you will take the brief (approximately five-minute) survey when the link is sent via email. The information you provide will help guide future decisions made by the International Musician Editorial Board. If you have not yet done so, please sign up to receive this link (and other valuable AFM news) at the AFM.org home page by submitting your information where it says “Stay Informed.”
International Musician Survey
As part of an ongoing effort by the International
Musician Editorial Board (IMEB) to make the International Musician (IM) a more relevant and interesting read, the IMEB will be surveying the membership about the IM. (For information on survey access, see page 3.) Our goal is to produce a magazine that helps foster our mission. You may be asking, just what is the AFM’s mission? The mission statement can be found by following the link http://www.afm.org/mission-bylaws/.
An important procedure for placement of orchestra audition ads in the IM requires the officer from the local whose jurisdiction covers the employer to approve the ad submitted by the employer. Sometimes an employer wants to advertise a position opening when, in fact, the opening is disputed by the local. The musician currently holding the position may have a claim under the contract that has not been resolved fully. To avoid undermining the local’s position, the local is called upon to approve the ad before the opening can be advertised in the IM.
Sometimes local officers do not approve (or reject) ads in a timely fashion. Without local approval, we will not run the ad. The IM has a tight publishing schedule, so local officers responsible for symphonic audition ad approvals should respond as soon as you receive the approval notice. If there is a reason for a delay in returning the notice, please immediately contact IM Classified/Audition Ads Manager Artie Parrilla at firstname.lastname@example.org and copy IM editor Cherie Yurco at email@example.com and SSD Director Rochelle Skolnick at firstname.lastname@example.org in your email.
This issue of the International Musician focuses on the symphonic field. Coming from the symphonic world myself, it is always a special issue for me. Symphonic musicians typically perform under collectively bargained local agreements. This has resulted in a field that has excellent union density due to union security clauses found in AFM symphonic contracts.
While some states have passed “right to work” legislation, most symphonic musicians understand the importance of an AFM contract and remain loyal, strong, and supportive union members. The important contractual gains achieved over many decades, are a testament to musician solidarity. Weathering the previous onslaught of bankruptcies, lockouts, and occasional strikes was made possible by hardworking teams of symphonic musicians represented by their local unions and elected orchestra/negotiating committees, with aid and support from symphonic player conferences and the Federation.
While symphonic musicians still face challenging contract negotiations, it appears we have entered a period of relative tranquility. At the time of this writing, there are no ongoing strikes, lockouts, or pending bankruptcies. This is a moment that may allow for some contract rehabilitation for those musicians who were forced to make concessions due to the “great recession.”
When requested by a local officer (after consultation with the orchestra committee), the Federation will dispatch a Federation negotiator to lead and/or assist with orchestra contract negotiations. Additionally, the Federation provides an annual negotiating orchestra workshop just prior to the ROPA Conference for orchestra negotiating committees and local officers. For those new to collective bargaining or just needing a refresher, this workshop is for you. Some local officers attend annually and always leave the workshop saying they learned something new.
The Federation also shares the cost with the local for financial analysis of the orchestra with whom the local will be negotiating. Contact the AFM Symphonic Services Division for details.
Integrated Media Agreement
Our national Integrated Media Agreement (IMA) covering live symphonic media work will soon, once again, be renegotiated. (The IMA does not cover work performed in the recording studio, which is covered by SRLA). The multi-employer representative for a growing number of orchestras, Employers’ Media Association (EMA), will be across the table from the Federation. Previous negotiations have been long and arduous but hope springs eternal.
The crucial recurring battle tends to be over our strong belief that there is added value associated with recorded product and that it is necessary and appropriate to compensate musicians based on this added value. We will not yield in our belief that recorded music must be compensated separately and apart from our live performance wage. The methods of product distribution may have changed (decreased physical product and increased digital steaming), but the additional stress of recording and creating a product that lives on in perpetuity has not changed. It requires appropriate additional compensation for musicians. Musicians have fought for and defended this basic tenet for decades and we will continue to do so.
I hope you enjoy this special symphonic issue of the IM.
Now Available: AFM 2016 Annual Report
The 2016 AFM Annual Report is now available on the AFM website. After you log in, click on the Documents Library tab. Then click on the Financial Documents and Annual Report folder. Now click on the 2016 Annual Report PDF. This is a comprehensive report from the AFM officers, legal counsel, auditors, directors, some AFM staff members, and the editor of the International Musician. It also contains the 2016 year-end audit. This annual report is intended to be a retrospective, rather than forward-looking document. Local officers wishing to receive the print version should request a copy from AFM Assistant Secretary Jonathan Ferrone