Tag Archives: meeting

Eastern Conference

Conference Gathers Eastern Locals for Informative Exchanges

by Mary Plaine, Eastern Conference Secretary-Treasurer and Secretary-Treasurer of Local 40-543 (Baltimore, MD)

eastern conference

AFM staff and delegates of the Eastern Conference met in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, April 22-23.

A historic meeting of Federation and local officers and delegates took place at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, Saturday, April 22, when the Eastern Conference of Locals, comprised of locals from New England, New Jersey, New York, and the former Penn-Del-Mar-DC Conference, was called to order by Eastern Conference President Candace Lammers of Local 400 (Hartford-New Haven, CT). After a lot of work on the part of many people, it was gratifying to see 50 people sitting around the U-shaped table ready to attack a full agenda.

Following the opening business of the conference, the attendees heard presentations from AFM Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal, who spoke about the financial state of the Federation, and Department of Labor Investigator Nicolle Spallino, who spoke about locals and their need for financial safeguards, internal controls, and record-keeping.

AFM President Ray Hair brought the group up to date on several issues, including negotiations for Pamphlet B, the Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SLRA), and TV agreements. He spoke about changes in media consumption and the Federation’s new revenue streams to help underwrite the Special Payments Fund and the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF). Then, Hair was joined by employer and employee representatives for a discussion of the AFM-Employers’ Pension Fund.

AFM Legislative and Political Director Alfonso Pollard reviewed the many issues he has been wrestling in our nation’s capital: copyright and intellectual property legislation, instrument carry-on rules for domestic and international travel, national “right to work” legislation, and immigration.

Labor Attorney Harvey Mars closed Saturday’s business with the address, “The Impact of the Trump Administration Upon Labor in the Arts and What We Can Do About It.” Mars stressed three actions Federation musicians should take to keep themselves strong: fight for the NEA and other federally funded arts and cultural programs; fight for the right to be treated as employees and not independent contractors so that we can receive our full rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act; and fight to protect the right to organize and to protect union security—fight against right to work legislation. (See page 6 for a longer synopsis.)

On Sunday morning, the first speaker was MPTF Trustee Dan Beck, who updated the conference on the activities of his organization. Following Beck, two Federation employees, Symphonic Services Division (SSD) Director/Special Counsel Rochelle Skolnick and Touring/Theatre/Booking Division Director Michael Manley, gave presentations.

Skolnick described the personnel and operations of the SSD. She spoke about the SSD Resource Center in the For Members/Document Library section of the AFM website. She explained that serving as one of the AFM’s three in-house legal counsels allows for more efficiency as the AFM aggressively enforces its media agreements. She then reviewed recent legal actions.

Skolnick also spoke about the Federation’s new three-part approach to local officer training: webinars; two days of education held prior to the regional local conferences; and three-day intensive retreats to foster mentorships and peer-to-peer help. Well-trained local officers are more important than ever in strengthening the Federation and providing support to our members.

Manley’s presentation was “Freelance for Hire, Gig Organizing Strategies for Local Officers.” He addressed work not covered by collective bargaining agreements, such as single engagements of musicians hired to back up touring artists (Idina Menzel, for example) or productions such as The Legend of Zelda. Manley encouraged local officers to become familiar with contractors, venues, and peer unions in their jurisdictions, and to know what events are taking place in the venues.

Additional conference business included the adoption of new and revised bylaws and the election of officers. The current Eastern Conference Board is: President Matthew Cascioli, secretary of Local 45 (Allentown, PA); 1st Vice President Tom Olcott, financial vice president of Local 802 (New York City); 2nd Vice President Pat Hollenbeck, president of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA); 3rd Vice President Tony Scally, president of Local 16-248 (Newark/Paterson, NJ); 4th Vice President Michael Angelucci, president of Local 341 (Norristown, PA); and Secretary-Treasurer Mary Plaine, secretary-treasurer of Local 40-543 (Baltimore, MD).

Many thanks to all the people who helped bring the Eastern Conference to life, with a special thank you to Angelucci, who was the conference’s lifeline to the hotel.

Next year’s Eastern Conference is planned for April 14-15 and will again take place at the Valley Forge Casino Resort.

Face Time or Screen Time?

by Barbara Owens, AFM International Representative Midwest Territory and Symphonic Services Division Negotiator

Barbara-Owens2I come from the pre-computer/pre-smartphone era of writing letters and making telephone calls with a rotary dial phone (I even remember our family sharing a “party line”). In this electronic age, many of us feel challenged to maintain communication that has more substance than an impersonal conference call, quick text, or group email. Electronic communication certainly has advantages of flexibility and immediate accessibility, but the drawbacks, especially when it comes to group communication or decision making, can create misunderstandings and frustration.

Many experts agree that face-to-face meetings, even if conducted via Skype or another video chat program, are the optimal way to bring diverse groups into an environment where complex discussions can be undertaken and decisions can be made. Craig Jarrow, from Time Management Ninja, says, “You don’t have to be ‘in person’ but you have to ‘be there.’” In other words, how do you really know that you have the undivided attention of all the participants on a non-video conference call? If participants give into the temptation to multi-task, your call may be longer and less productive than you wish.

As musicians, we are so in-tune with the nonverbal cues of our orchestra colleagues that we might do ourselves a disservice when we bypass in-person or video chat meetings for the ease of a group conference call. We do better when we can see those we are communicating with; seeing the people you are talking with engages them and you more directly. (Also, it’s much harder to say no or disagree with someone when you have to look them in the eye!)

Written electronic communications can be even more problematic. We have all received those middle-of-the-night emails containing an emotional reaction to a negotiation proposal or situation of a colleague that can set in motion a never-ending email chain of reactions from people in the address loop. While you may think these types of emails provide a space for venting, at any time one email—or even one sentence—taken out of context has the potential to wreak havoc. Resist the temptation to “reply all” when you are in this situation. Picking up the phone for a one-on-one conversation, and then following it with a video chat for the group, if necessary, can alleviate unnecessary drama and confusion.

We are fortunate that musicians who have multiple employers in multiple locations can use video chats, texting, and email to keep current with news from their orchestras, their local, and the AFM. During negotiations, I have seen negotiating committees reach out electronically to absent committee members or colleagues for input on specific issues. This is a great benefit of technology that allows us all to participate and stay connected. But electronic communication is a tool, not a replacement for face-to-face communications. Electronic communication is easy, convenient, and efficient, but it does not have the emotional power of direct communication.

ICSOM Delegates Gather in Philadelphia

by Laura Ross, ICSOM Secretary and member of Local 257 (Nashville, TN)

ICSOM Chair Bruce Ridge of Local 500 (Raleigh, NC), flanked by outgoing ICSOM Board officers Matt Comerford (left) of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL) and Brian Rood of Local 34-627 (Kansas City, MO).

ICSOM Chair Bruce Ridge of Local 500 (Raleigh, NC), flanked by outgoing ICSOM Board officers Matt Comerford (left) of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL) and Brian Rood of Local 34-627 (Kansas City, MO).

This year’s International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) Conference, held August 26-29 at the Sonesta Philadelphia Hotel, celebrated advocacy and diversity, and provided labor law education and important negotiating and contract administration ideas and information. Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA) pulled out all the stops to partner with The Philadelphia Orchestra musicians. Delegates and guests toured the Kimmel Center and attended a lovely mixer on a patio overlooking the center and the Academy of Music. They were also treated to a double-deck bus tour of some Philadelphia landmarks and historical sites, including the Liberty Bell and the Art Institute, where they were given a chance to run up its 72 steps and pose by the statue of Rocky Balboa.

The ICSOM Governing Board, with the assistance of Philadelphia Orchestra cellist Gloria dePasquale, scheduled a volunteer service the afternoon before the conference officially began. ICSOM delegates, officers, and members partnered with Philadelphia Orchestra musicians to provide music, greeters, and servers at Broad Street Ministry, which is right across the street from the Kimmel Center. Housed in a beautiful old sanctuary, with artwork hanging from the rafters, this organization supplies hundreds of Philadelphia’s homeless with meals, clothing, and other necessities. Musicians from Atlanta, Chicago Lyric, Dallas, Fort Worth, Hawaii, Kansas City, the Kennedy Center, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Utah orchestras performed and served during the dinner hour.

Wednesday morning, the conference began with stirring addresses by ICSOM Chair Bruce Ridge (North Carolina Symphony/Local 500) and ICSOM President Brian Rood (Kansas City Symphony/Local 34-627). Keynote speaker Dr. Jane Chu, the 11th and current chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, shared her history as the child of Chinese immigrant parents. Chu, who was born in Oklahoma, spoke about how music shaped her life and enabled her to honor different perspectives and ideas.

icsom conference

ICSOM volunteer musicians and Philadelphia Orchestra members performed and served at Broad Street Ministry, which serves Philadelphia’s homeless population.

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra trombonist Weston Sprott of Local 802 (New York City) spoke briefly about the importance of music education. He is featured in a new film, Some Kind of Spark. It documents the impact of Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program (MAP), which offers lessons to talented, inner-city kids. Media veteran Randy Whatley of Cypress Media Group returned for his third ICSOM Conference to discuss lessons learned during the past few years of lockouts and potential job actions.

Joe Conyers (The Philadelphia Orchestra assistant principal bass/Local 77) spoke about the formation of Project 440, an organization that trains young musicians to serve their communities through classical music. Allison Beck, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), spoke about changes at FMCS and negotiation and relation-building assistance. She served as mediator and FMCS advisor during both the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra negotiations and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s lockout in 2014.

ICSOM Counsel Susan Martin led her third informative session of Delegate Duel, as four orchestra groups, along with AFM staff and local officers, competed to show off their understanding of labor law. AFM President Ray Hair’s presentation followed an explanation of the newly ratified Integrated Media Agreement (IMA).

Delegates learned about a documentary film and survey that update a 1987 ICSOM performance anxiety survey. They heard updates on the AFM & Employers’ Pension Fund. Leaders of the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA), Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM), Theater Musicians Association (TMA), and Recording Musicians Association (RMA) spoke to delegates. Delegates were given the opportunity to submit questions for a moderated session with AFM Symphonic Services Division staff.

icsom conference

(Above) ICSOM Governing Board (L to R): Senza Sordino Editor Peter de Boor (Local 161-710/Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra); Member-at-large (MAL) Matt Comerford (Local 10-208/Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra); Chair Bruce Ridge (Local 500/North Carolina Symphony); National Endowment for the Arts Chair Jane Chu; President Brian Rood (Local 34-627/Kansas City Symphony); Treasurer Michael Moore (Local 148-462/Atlanta Symphony Orchestra);
MAL Meredith Snow (Local 47/Los Angeles Philharmonic); MAL Jennifer Mondie (Local 161-710/National Symphony Orchestra); Secretary Laura Ross (Local 257/Nashville Symphony);
and MAL Paul Gunther, (Local 30-73/Minnesota Orchestra).

On the final day, attorneys Mel Schwarzwald and Joe Porcaro discussed bargaining presentations, information requests, and confidentiality agreements. Town meeting discussions included increased interest in finding solutions to protect musicians’ hearing from the excessive decibel levels that orchestras are dealing with as they perform more amplified pops and special concerts.

Delegates also dealt with bylaw changes and passed resolutions to honor outgoing ICSOM President Brian Rood, who stepped down at the end of the conference after serving 12 years as president, as well as Member-at-large and former ICSOM Electronic Media Chair Matt Comerford (Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra/Local 10-208). They also acknowledged the contributions of former ICSOM webmaster Charles Noble (Oregon Symphony/Local 99), retiring governing board members Mary Plaine (Member-at-large, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Local 40-543), and Nancy Griffin (ICSOM Secretary, Seattle Symphony/Local 76-493). Delegates recognized conductors Robert Spano and Donald Runnicles, members of 148-462 (Atlanta, GA), for their support of musicians during last year’s Atlanta Symphony Orchestra lockout. Additional resolutions acknowledged OCSM’s 40th and TMA’s 20th anniversaries, and offered support for Hartford Symphony Orchestra musicians. Finally, resolutions thanked ICSOM Braumeister Robert Grossman (Philadelphia Orchestra/Local 77) for creating five different beers for the conference, and every member delegate signed on to urge Colorado Symphony musicians to remain in the AFM.

The 2016 ICSOM Conference will be held in Washington, DC.

2015 ROPA Conference Details

The 31st annual Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA) Conference will be held at the Toledo, Ohio, Grand Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, July 28-July 30. An AFM negotiations seminar will take place July 27, starting in the morning. The conference room rate at the Grand Plaza Hotel is $99 per night, with a reservation cut-off date of June 25. (Use promo code 01G_123).

The ROPA Executive Board offers its sincere appreciation to Local 15-286 (Toledo, OH) President Alan B. Taplin and Secretary Emilie Sargent, ROPA Delegate Katherine Cosgrove, and Alternate Delegate Nora Shankin for their gracious hospitality in hosting the conference.