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.