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.
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 email@example.com and copy IM editor Cherie Yurco at firstname.lastname@example.org and SSD Director Rochelle Skolnick at email@example.com 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
Recently I was introduced to a young man who makes his living as a professional musician but engages with today’s marketplace in a very different way than I did when I began my career. As a college student, I remember wanting very much to join the union. It was a rite of passage. Becoming a union musician meant I was a true professional, and therefore, allowed me to take my place among the wonderful and talented musicians who made their living making music. I remember carting my bass to what was a rather pathetic excuse for a union hall (a smoke-filled room with a desk). Behind the desk was an elderly, rather rotund man with a raspy voice made so from all the cigars he’d smoked, one of which hung from his mouth. Blue-gray smoke wafted up towards the ceiling.
He greeted me with: “So kid, you want to join the union.”
“Yes,” I said.
“Okay,” he replied, “play me a D major scale.”
I played the scale and he said, “Alright, kid … you’re in. That’ll be $7 initiation fee and $14 first quarter dues.” As I pulled the cash out of my pocket he asked me my name for the first time. I spelled it for him as he filled out my first union card. With that, he shook my hand, saying, “See ya kid.” I left floating on air. I had arrived!
Today, it’s quite different. An entire underground music economy exists, inhabited mostly by Millennials and Generation Z. Gone are the days when union membership was a necessary rite of passage. Many young musicians perform mostly nonunion work for cash and have none of the benefits or protections of a union contract. That said, they do make a living from this work. They are not necessarily opposed to the union, but are for the most part unaware of the labor movement and the contributions unions have made to improving wages and working conditions.
What many young musicians do want is health insurance. While health plans are offered by some of our largest locals, contributions to the plans come from being on a union contract. So, if these musicians can be educated about the union and offered the opportunity to participate in a health plan, they may become interested in union membership.
As I learn more about this underground music economy, I will follow up by letting you know of any progress that is made working with tomorrow’s professionals.
FIM International Orchestra Conference 2017
Having just returned from the 4th International Orchestra Conference (IOC) of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), I was pleased to see how participation has grown since 2008. The IOC was established at the suggestion of former AFM Symphonic Services Director and International Secretary-Treasurer Florence Nelson when she was serving as a FIM officer. The conference takes place triennially. This year’s was held in Montreal, sponsored by the Guilde des Musiciens et Musiciennes du Quebec, AFM Local 406. Two hundred and sixty-one delegates, representing 30 countries attended, including a large contingent from Ghana! The official AFM delegation included AFM President Ray Hair, Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert, International Executive Board member and Local 802 (New York City) President Tino Gagliardi, Director of Symphonic Services Rochelle Skolnick, Director of Symphonic Electronic Media Deborah Newmark, ICSOM Chair Meredith Snow, ROPA Delegate Naomi Bensdorf Frisch, OCSM President Robert Fraser, and myself. I would like to recognize the Local 406 President Luc Fortin, Secretary-Treasurer Éric Lefebvre, Vice President Montréal Geneviève Plante, and Vice President Québec Jacques Bourget. In particular, I want to recognize former Local 406 Executive Director Myléne Cyr and Conference Coordinator Alexis Pitkevicht, who organized the conference and handled communications and public relations. They did a wonderful job working with FIM to put on an excellent conference.
The world has become a global marketplace. We now understand that what happens in the global marketplace affects the work of all professional symphonic musicians. Coming together to strategize, discuss common problems, and show support and solidarity for one another is an important function of the IOC. Look for additional coverage of the IOC in the July issue of the IM.
The International Musician (IM) falls under the purview of the Secretary-Treasurer’s office, however, in February 2017 we formed an International Musician Editorial Board (IMEB). Our board consists of 14 members, including several AFM International Executive Board (IEB) members, the directors of many AFM divisions, the AFM Assistant Secretary, and the IM managing editor. The first meeting included discussions about our goals, target audience, how the IM’s content can best support the AFM mission, member input, and topics for our next issue.
As you know, the IM is the official journal of the AFM, but in fact, it really is much more. Beyond providing official notices, the cover stories highlight musicians who have gained recognition in our field, achieved significant milestones in their careers, or have made meaningful contributions to labor. Feature stories and member profiles introduce the readership to what our members are doing and special events. News articles inform the membership about what is happening in the field and also broader labor issues. Audition ads announce openings around the world in orchestras and ensembles.
One of the goals of the IMEB is to closely tie our content with the goals and mission of our union and the broader labor movement. That’s where you come in. Members often think of the union as a third party—“What can the union do for me?” We would like to change that perception. The strength of our union comes from the members themselves. Member participation, solidarity, and support for one another are the foundation of a strong union.
The expression, “You are the union!” is exactly what members need to understand and internalize. Nothing is more important than a well-informed membership that participates regularly in union affairs. With this in mind, we welcome the submission of appropriate content that’s well written and is of broad interest to the membership. If you wish to write an article, contact the IM editor, Cherie Yurco at firstname.lastname@example.org, letting her know of your desire. She will bring your suggestion to the IMEB for a discussion about possible inclusion in a future issue of the IM.
The two meetings we have had since the formation of the IMEB have been invaluable. Board members bring their knowledge about what’s happening currently in the field and their views on labor. It is our intention to cover many genres so the IM will have a broad appeal to the membership. To the extent possible, AFM Communication Director Rose Ryan, will continue to pick up some of the IM content to use on our AFM Facebook page.
We will be working on an electronic membership survey which, when completed, will help us understand how we can adjust the IM content to better meet your needs. When the survey is ready, we will make an announcement in the IM and provide a link to the survey.
This issue of the IM will be available at the fourth International Orchestra Conference (IOC) of the Fédération Internationale des Musiciens/International Federation of Musicians (FIM). The IOC takes place once every three years. This year it will be in Montreal, Canada, sponsored by the Guilde des Musiciens et Musiciennes du Quebec, Local 406 (Montreal, PQ) AFM. We took this opportunity to feature an Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) musician for this month’s cover story.
The IM Editorial Board meets monthly. Board members outside of New York City join the meeting via Internet video conference.
A concern expressed to me by many delegates attending the AFM Convention last June was who would become the AFM director of Symphonic Services Division (SSD), if I became the secretary-treasurer. Indeed, filling the director position with the right individual presented a challenge, but as it turned out, there were several qualified applicants.
Recently the US Department of Labor distributed a communication that will impact all those filing Forms LM-2, LM-3, and LM-4 Labor Organization Annual Reports. This includes AFM Locals, regional AFM Conferences, and AFM Player Conferences.
It says, in part: