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Negotiations Roundup – A View of Talks in Progress

The Federation’s negotiations with its bargaining partners in the US and Canada, whether on an industry-wide, single- or multi-employer basis, are a never-ending process. Other than contracts with touring theatrical producers such as the Broadway League, most of our negotiations are with producers and distributors of media content when musicians are engaged to perform electronic media services, whether streamed, broadcast live, or captured for analog or digital distribution.

Our purpose is to improve the wages and conditions, health benefit and pension contributions when we create the content exploited by the producers. We also negotiate for additional compensation when content is re-played or re-used in domestic and foreign analog markets, and when content is distributed digitally by subscription video on-demand (SVOD) or advertiser-based video on-demand services (AVOD).

Our program of collective bargaining and contract enforcement is aggressive, and is accompanied by a member-driven program of concerted activity, led by the Federation’s organizing department with assistance from locals and also with financial support authorized by the International Executive Board.

The Federation’s emphasis in all of its media negotiations is streaming, and the potential of digital distribution to provide new money for musicians whose services are embodied in streaming content, and also for our residual and benefit funds. Media consumption has transitioned away from traditional physical products such as compact discs and DVDs toward digital formats and streaming. As a result, we are bargaining for our digital future—concentrating on replacing musicians’ declining residual revenue from traditional physical and analog sources with revenue from digital media distribution.

What follows is a thumbnail sketch of negotiations and talks in progress:

Motion Picture TV Film. Film and TV musicians are engaged in a heated campaign toward the studios to obtain and improve industry-standard wages, conditions, and residual payments when content is made for streaming. The Federation and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have operated under a contract extension (with annual wage increases) following the April 5, 2018 expiration of the predecessor agreement.

As major film and television studios prepare to launch their own streaming platforms, they are refusing to bargain a fair deal for the musicians who work for them. Musicians have traditionally received a small portion of secondary-market revenue from the films and TV shows they work on, along with actors, writers, and directors. But, in the production of content made for streaming, the major studios are excluding musicians from their fair share, effectively reducing musicians’ overall pay.

The existing AMPTP agreement covers sidelining, scoring, and music preparation services for theatrical motion pictures and films made for television, whether distributed traditionally or digitally. We will continue to address these concerns when discussions reconvene on November 20 (which will occur after this issue of the IM goes to print). Please visit www.bandtogetherafm.org for the most up-to-date information on our members’ campaign for fairness in the making of content for original streaming productions.

Commercial Announcements (Jingles). The production agreement between the Federation and the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies is set to expire on March 31, 2020. The existing agreement, negotiated in June 2014, achieved significant increases in pay and pension benefits for exhibition of online commercial announcements. However, we expect that discussions next year toward a successor agreement will necessarily focus on an uptick in the licensing of pre-existing tracks by advertisers and their agencies, which has resulted in a reduction in the production and use of new, original recordings for jingle content.

Live Television. Negotiations began in 2016 with the TV broadcast networks for a successor agreement covering musicians performing on all live or pre-recorded television shows, including all late night talk shows, all variety shows such as Dancing With The Stars, awards shows such as the Grammys, and live morning shows where guest artists frequently appear. After five rounds of formal negotiations and additional informal meetings spanning three years, the networks have finally begun to address the Federation’s proposals covering streamed distribution of program content.

Intense concerted activity by musicians working in the TV and film scoring workplace, in an effort to achieve fairness on streaming issues, helped open the door toward more realistic conversations with the producers and networks on those issues. Our next round of negotiations with the networks will occur early next year.

Pamphlet B Agreement. The Federation’s “Pamphlet B” agreement is negotiated with the New York City-based Broadway League and establishes wages and conditions of employment for musicians working on the road in touring theatrical musical productions. The contract is administered by the Federation’s Touring and Booking Division headed by my assistant, Tino Gagliardi, and will expire March 15, 2020.

Historically, Pamphlet B provisions cover only musicians traveling with the show. It does not set wages and conditions for local musicians who are engaged to augment or replace traveling musicians in the cities and jurisdictions where the shows are eventually booked. But beginning in 1992, provisions in the contract were modified and implemented to allow producers to restrict and reduce the allocation of work between local musicians and touring musicians previously governed by local collective bargaining agreements.

The tension in the distribution of touring employment and attempts by producers to avoid hiring local musicians will again figure prominently in our discussions. As the Federation prepares for Pamphlet B negotiations, we will meet with stakeholders to help identify, articulate, and prioritize our members’ needs and develop plans of action to address those needs.

Negotiations

Negotiations Roundup—A Capsule View of Talks in Progress

The Federation’s negotiations with its bargaining partners, whether on an industry-wide, single-, or multi-employer basis, are a never-ending process. Other than contracts with touring producers such as the Broadway League, most of our negotiations seek improvements in compensation and working conditions when musicians are engaged to perform electronic media services either streamed or broadcast live, or captured for analog and digital distribution.

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Motion Picture and TV Film Agreements: One-Year Deal, 3% Raise

I am pleased to report that on March 9, after a week of intense negotiations, an agreement was reached with major Hollywood-based film producers and their television film counterparts to extend the existing Theatrical and Motion Picture Film Agreements for one year with a 3% increase in wages. Upon ratification, the extension and wage increase will become effective April 5, 2018.

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Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Completes Amicable Contract Negotiations

Musicians and management of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) announced in early March that they had reached agreement on a three-year contract extension through the 2020-2021 season. Reflecting a renewed sense of collaboration and trust between the two sides, the negotiation process was conducted quietly and the agreement was reached six months ahead of schedule. ASO musicians, members of Local 148-462, endured lockouts in 2012 and 2014, as well as a drastic pay cut in 2012.

The contract extension will include increases to compensation totaling approximately 3% annually over the three-year period. In addition, the agreement includes changes to the orchestra’s work rules. The agreement was made possible due to the strong financial performance of the institution over the past four years, along with the generosity of an anonymous donor who stepped forward with support for compensation increases.

During the term of the extension, the orchestra’s complement remains unchanged. In the most recent contract, management agreed to raise $25 million for a musicians’ endowment fund to restore and fund 11 positions in the orchestra. ASO exceeded the $25 million goal and completed the campaign two years ahead of schedule. Auditions are in process to fill the final positions and raise the complement to 88 full-time musicians.

“The Musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra are pleased that respectful and productive negotiations resulted in this new contract,” says Atlanta Symphony Players’ Association Chair and ASO Cellist Daniel Laufer of Local 148-462. “This agreement is another important step forward in solidifying the financial foundation necessary to support the artistry of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. We would like to thank Jennifer Barlament [ASO executive director] and her senior leadership team, as well as Howard Palefsky, ASO board Chair, for making a positive difference during these negotiations. We are also very appreciative of the anonymous donor who so strongly believes in ASO musicians and understands the importance of continuing to restore the compensation package.”

Cape Symphony Musicians Ratify First Contract

After 10 months of negotiations between Local 9-535 (Boston, MA)—along with the negotiating committee—and representatives of the Cape Symphony Board, the Cape Symphony is now a union orchestra. Musicians voted 59 to one to ratify the first contract for the symphony that was founded in 1962. The agreement includes tenured status for a roster of 69 musicians with more robust job security protections, favorable leave provisions (for musicians who are cobbling together complicated professional schedules), a generous increase in wages, modest sick pay provisions, and meaningful participation in the audition process for new members.

Cape Symphony Musicians also perform with many of the finest orchestras in and around Boston. All the Cape Symphony musicians are professionals, most with degrees from world-class conservatories.

The Cape Symphony Committee helped organize the Cape Symphony and negotiate the first CBA for the orchestra founded in 1962. Standing (L to R) are Local 9-535 (Boston, MA) members: Norma Stiner, Wendy Rolfe, David Rufino, and Clark Matthews; seated is Stu Gunn.

Clark Matthews, principal horn and chair of the negotiating committee states, “This contract is a product of a multigenerational, pan-organizational collaborative desire to create a work environment capable of sustaining the highest quality of artistry for our community on Cape Cod. We are pleased with the agreement and the development of a mutually respectful relationship with our dedicated management team.”

Local 9-535 Vice President and Lead Negotiator Robert Couture, says, “We appreciate the Cape Symphony team for their work in these tremendously productive negotiations and are pleased to join this wonderful organization as we look to the future and help to bring the finest talent to the Cape Cod audience for years to come.”

“This Cape Cod organizing effort was a process that began 10 years ago (in 2008) proving yet again that perseverance is the key to success,” says Local 9-535 President Pat Hollenbeck.

2018 Negotiations to Bring More Covered Work

by Alan Willaert, AFM Vice President from Canada

The Canadian Office has several negotiations occurring simultaneously. Some of these negotiations are ongoing and others are just beginning. We have been at the table with the jingle industry for more than a year. When bargaining a successor agreement began, there seemed to be a taste from the other side for more inclusive packaging, where several platforms could be purchased up front in one-year increments. That has now changed, and the emphasis is now dubbing different iterations for web use. What was once being referred to as “new media” is now simply “digital.”

When the current agreement was written, Internet advertising was in its infancy, and the revenue was small in comparison with television and radio. Now, of course, the Internet has become a mainstay and is treated as a third and equal platform.

These rather massive shifts in how advertising agencies spend their dollars have made it imperative that we completely revise the language and find ways to simplify pricing. While there are several obstacles to be overcome, there is light at the end of the tunnel and finalization of a new Commercial Announcements Agreement is imminent.

After many years, we have finally been successful in getting the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) to agree to negotiate. This will be the first independent production agreement for use in Canada, an important step because our General Production Agreement (currently negotiated with the CBC) is not a particularly good fit for independents. Once in place, it will represent more covered work for our members, and we should be able to capture productions that are now either done dark or offshore.

The first meeting took place January 31. Representing the Federation were AFM President Ray Hair, Michael Murray of Local 149 (Toronto, ON), EMSD Supervisor Dan Calabrese, Executive Director Liana White, and myself. The next bargaining date will be March 12.

The same team will be in place for negotiations set to kick off March 13, as we begin bargaining with the remaining three terrestrial broadcasters: Corus Entertainment, Rogers Communications, and Bell Media. The hope is that the current General Production Agreement (GPA) can be used as a template. Right now, certain music programming is being done under a letter of adherence to the GPA, such as CTV’s The Launch (look for the CFM logo in the credits), the Junos, and other award shows. This will allow us to capture all productions with live musicians, as well as scoring.

With the assistance of Local 293 (Hamilton, ON) President Larry Feudo and Secretary-Treasurer Brent Malseed, we have entered into negotiations for a successor contract with the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA), in anticipation of this year’s awards, hosted by the city of Hamilton. CCMA has agreed to a three-year deal to avoid repetitive bargaining.

The spring and summer will be extremely busy finalizing agreements, but the payoff will be more covered work for more members, which after all, is the point.

Click here for this article in French.

New International Representative, TV Negotiations Update

I am pleased to announce that Dave Shelton, former president of Local 554-635 (Lexington, KY), has become the newest member the Federation’s staff as an International Representative (IR), filling a field position that became vacant May 2017 with the departure of Barbara Owens.

International Representatives are the first line of help and assistance for local officers in matters pertaining to day-to-day operations and governance issues in running a local. They are readily available to assist local officers with onsite training, preparation of operating plans, budgeting, and compliance issues relative to AFM Bylaws and Department of Labor regulations. IRs are a resource for the development and application of local bylaws, mergers, membership rosters, newsletters, membership meetings, and elections.

New AFM International Representative for Midwest Territory Dave Shelton

Dave Shelton is uniquely qualified for service as an IR with his broad experience as a versatile professional musician and as a local officer, symphonic negotiator, orchestra committee chair, union steward, and AFM conference officer. An outstanding musician with many years of orchestral horn and jazz piano performance experience, Dave graduated summa cum laude in 2007 from one of the world’s most respected music schools, the University of North Texas (UNT), with a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies. At UNT, he served as a teaching fellow and a jazz lab band director. Prior to his study at UNT, Dave earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Kentucky. He has performed as fourth horn with the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra for nearly two decades, and also serves as pianist and arranger for that orchestra’s pops series.   

During his years of service as a local officer with Lexington Local 554-635, Dave excelled in fundraising and development activities, public relations, collective bargaining, and contract negotiations. He was elected as an officer of the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) in 2016, and currently serves as its vice president.

Dave now joins IRs Allistair Elliott (Canada), Wally Malone (Western Territory), Cass Acosta (Southeast Territory), and Eugene Tournour (Northeast Territory) who are each assigned a geographic territory of individual locals to maintain regular contact and visitation. The IRs’ activities are coordinated by Assistant to the President Ken Shirk, who is based in our West Coast Office, located in Burbank, California. We are delighted to welcome Dave as the newest member of the Federation’s staff. I know he will do an excellent job.

TV Negotiations Update—Respect the Band!

The Late Late Show band, members of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA), (L to R) Tim Young, Hagar Ben Ari, Guillermo Brown, Reggie Watts, and Steve Scalfati demand fair pay when their work is streamed online.

On December 15, 2017, the Federation resumed discussions in Los Angeles with representatives from CBS, NBC, and ABC toward a successor agreement covering the services of musicians engaged to perform on live television. Despite three rounds of negotiations, which began 18 months ago, the talks have been deadlocked over the networks’ refusal to bargain over the Federation’s proposals for progressive payment terms for advertiser-supported and subscriber-based streaming of live and on-demand TV. Our proposals for better terms for musicians engaged in the production of live television programs made for initial exhibition on streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu were also rebuffed.

Despite the networks’ stonewalling, our team was determined to break the bottleneck and find ways to turn up the heat. At my request, AFM Organizing and Education Director Michael Manley, together with organizers from Local 802 (New York City) and Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA), Recording Musicians Association President Marc Sazer, and player representative Jason Poss of Local 47 worked to develop a plan of action by arranging a series of meetings with musicians working on late night shows, award shows, and prime time variety shows. The musicians identified, discussed, and prioritized issues surrounding the producers’ lack of additional payment when their performances are free to watch online.

A concerted campaign with a catchy name, #respecttheband, emerged from those meetings and quickly gained traction. As the December negotiations got underway in Los Angeles, audience members waiting in line outside the studios on both coasts received leaflets outlining the issues. Musicians from the bands inside released statements to the press speaking out about producers’ lack of respect and fair treatment when their performances are streamed.

The Late Late Show with James Corden musicians released a photo from their green room displaying a #respecttheband banner.

“Other performers are all paid when Jimmy Kimmel Live! streams on YouTube or other online outlets, yet musicians are paid nothing. Musicians just want to be compensated for our likeness and our music,” says Cleto Escobedo III, musical director of Cleto and the Cletones. “I love Jimmy, the producers, and everyone we work with. We just need to make sure the networks treat us and all of our colleagues fairly.”

“This is about fairness. It’s a travesty that musicians are being treated this way. We are just asking the networks for a little respect—and the networks can certainly afford to treat musicians with the respect we deserve,” says Harold Wheeler, who is well known in the Broadway and recording scene and will be the Oscar’s music director in 2018 for the third consecutive year. He was also the original Dancing With the Stars music director.

Amen to brothers Cleto Escobedo III and Harold Wheeler, the Corden band, and our organizing team of highly motivated AFM staff, local officers and staff, and dedicated player representatives—bravo!

With a publicity push from AFM Communications Director Rose Ryan, the musicians’ concerted activities in support of their bargaining objectives received extensive coverage in Deadline Hollywood and Variety.

As a direct result, the networks have now agreed to engage and negotiate over the Federation’s proposals for fair and equitable compensation when musicians’ performances are streamed. Our next round of TV talks will occur this spring.