Tag Archives: officer training

Finding Renewed Purpose Following a Summer of Change

The last six months have been a very busy time for me. In addition to the work of running a mid-sized local and my duties as AFM International Vice President, the AFM initiated its new Officer Training program that I worked with others to create. Training has taken place in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; Madison, Wisconsin; Orlando, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. In addition to those training sessions, I also attended the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) and International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) conferences. Through all of this work, there developed a theme that I felt was worth sharing. This has been an important time for revitalization and regeneration at multiple levels of the AFM. Let me explain.

Starting with the Officer Training program, it has been years since the AFM had such a program in place. The work that local officers do is complicated, time intensive, and never ending. Combined with the fact that there are not many “kudos” and pay is not what it should be, you have a recipe for burnout. That said, those who take on these local leadership positions, do so for the good of all. It’s truly a calling for the best of those officers and their commitment cannot be underappreciated.

As we’ve gone through each of our training sessions, the feedback has been almost universally positive. It’s not just what officers learn from staff and trainers, but what they learn from each other, as well. As they grow their relationships, they have new allies to contact when there are problems to discuss or for cross collaboration between locals. For those officers who have been in place for a while, there is a sense of regeneration and rededication to their duties. For those who are new to their positions, they now know where to turn for answers and support. It’s exciting to feel the energy and see the interaction and relationships that build during these two or three-day sessions.

Moving to ROPA and ICSOM, both of those conferences have new leadership at the top and this was their first round of conferences. You could sense a slightly different dynamic and energy in each of those conferences. It’s not that the previous leadership wasn’t great, it’s just that, as someone new steps into that role, they bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm that refocuses the direction and creates a revitalized organization, ready and energized to face challenges head on.

Lastly, Local 99 (Portland, OR), my local, has gone through a transition. Dennis Lynch, secretary-treasurer of Local 99 and a pillar of the AFM, has retired. He joined the AFM in the mid ’70s, and first became the secretary-treasurer of Local 689 (Eugene, OR) in November 1978. Then, the AFM hired him as the AFM Western Region International Representative (according to Dennis, on April Fool’s Day 1984). He served in that position for 20 years, until 2004. In 2008 he became secretary-treasurer of Local 99. We thank Dennis for the incredible contributions and his years of service to the AFM and wish him the best in this new phase of his life.

Filling those large shoes at Local 99 is newly elected Secretary-Treasurer Mont Chris Hubbard. To continue the theme, you can feel the resurgence of energy at the local. He is doing all the things that a new leader must do. While he is learning the ropes, understanding the work and the depth of what must get done, he is also challenging the status quo. He is making us look at the way we work with a new set of eyes and experiences. We will all learn from the transition taking place. I believe we will end up with a stronger, revitalized, and more efficient and effective local.

What this summer of change brought into clear relief for me is the importance and value of a fresh set of eyes, or a new backdrop for the work we do. I’m not just talking about local officers and the AFM. I’m talking about all of us. Maybe it’s time to take a hard look at your career and where you’re at. Are you in a rut? Does it seem like new ideas for moving forward have stalled? Do you have writer’s block? We all need to change our perspective, whether it be through classes or training, a change in routines, time away from work (vacation), or even looking at some of our multiple work commitments and deciding whether they are moving us forward or holding us back. The process of “challenging” our status quo can lead to renewed energy, commitment, and a revitalized focus on our work.

Maybe it’s easiest to think of this as a reboot. It just might be time to take a good look at ourselves, our bands, the work we do, and make this our season of change.

Electronic Media Services Division

An EMSD Perspective on the AFM Officer Training Program

Electronic Media Services Divisionby Patrick Varriale, Director AFM Electronic Media Services Division

I have had the privilege of participating in the AFM Convention mandated Officer Training Program, joining my AFM colleagues in bringing valuable information to local officers in an up close and personal way. These training programs take place prior to AFM regional conferences. So far, sessions have been held at the Eastern Conference in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; the Southern Conference in Orlando, Florida; and most recently the Canadian Conference in Hamilton, Ontario, where I gave a presentation with Contract Administrator Dan Calabrese, the electronic media representative for Canada.

My role in the training is to help “demystify” electronic media. There are so many facets and possibilities in this day and age. I advise local officers about the many tools available to them to help make AFM projects a reality. 

My presentation starts with an overview of the national agreements administered by the Electronic Media Services Division—the Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA), Commercial Announcements Agreement, Motion Picture and Television Film Agreement, Television Videotape Agreement, and more. My intent is to bring clarity and relevance of those agreements to the local. As an example, the SRLA and Motion Picture and Television Film Agreement have low budget options available that can make lower volume recording projects possible. The Commercial Announcements Agreement has regional and local provisions that provide flexibility for producers of those types of commercials.

I then review the many other agreements available to capture AFM work—Local Limited Pressings, which now contains a visual component for concert DVDs; Demonstration Recordings, which also contains a visual component; Local Made and Played Commercial Announcements for local stores, restaurants, etc.; Local Broadcast Media; Limited Videocassette Release; Visual Archival Recording; Single Song Overdub; and Joint Venture, to name a few.

The Joint Venture Agreement is one of the more popular items. It enables a self-contained band to record itself and make the recordings available. Under this agreement, the only AFM-related requirement is the filing of a form with the local where the recording takes place to document the session. The understanding is that the musicians share equally in proceeds from the sales of the recording. It offers protection for future uses of the recording that were not contemplated by the Joint Venture Agreement.

Throughout the training, I stress the importance of ensuring that the company engaging the services of the musicians is a current signatory to the appropriate agreement for the work that is being performed and that the B (session) Report Form and music preparation invoices reflecting the activity of the musicians are properly completed and filed with the AFM local where the recording activity takes place. When a B-4 Report Form is filed for work under the SRLA, the musicians who performed services on that session automatically qualify for payments from the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund (SPF) and for potential new use of the recordings in motion pictures, television films, commercial announcements, or other media.

To help ensure that the B-4 Forms are properly filed, we provide recorded product CD jackets from the recorded product to locals. Signatory companies are required to provide the jackets to the AFM. The liner notes contain recording information such as where the sessions took place and the names of the musicians. The locals can check to see if they have the B-4 Forms and if those forms are consistent with the liner notes. If the local has no B-4 Forms for a project, local officers have the opportunity to make the proper inquiries and secure the forms.

Participating in these training programs gives me the opportunity to catch up with local officers, some of whom I have known for many years through interaction at conventions, conferences, and discussions of electronic media projects over the telephone.

I applaud local officers who have participated in this program. In addition to the above, there are many anomalies in the world of electronic media. I am more than glad to work with local officers in all aspects to demystify the many intricacies of the EMSD.

Officer Training

Officer Training—A New Day

by Bruce Fife, International Vice President and President of Local 99 (Portland, OR)

At the 100th Convention in June of 2016, a resolution was put forward by the Canadian Conference, requiring that the AFM implement an officer training program, with a “… focus on membership retention and recruitment, as well as general office procedures, as a means of combating declining Federation membership.”

This was an affirmation of what many officers and staff had been discussing for some time. AFM President Ray Hair appointed me to chair the committee tasked with creating this program. Joining me in this endeavor are Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert, AFM IEB Member Tina Morrison, with staff participation from Assistant to the President Ken Shirk, Symphonic Services Division Director Rochelle Skolnick, and International Representative Barbara Owens. 

The last AFM-sponsored training was convened in the late 1990s, early 2000s. I attended one of the four-day retreats that took place at the George Meany Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. I recall leaving inspired, educated, and exhausted, with new friends, colleagues, and mentors, and most importantly, with a better understanding of the AFM and unions in general. I returned to Portland, ready to take what I had learned and put it into action at Local 99 (Portland, OR). In retrospect, I believe much of 
Local 99’s growth, strength, and ingenuity came as a result of that focused training.

Our committee now wants to take the best practices and teachings from the previous instruction sessions, and build on them, with the goal of providing an even better educational experience and set of tools to ensure success in our work and the growth of our locals. In building this program, we have taken a three-prong approach that we believe will provide the highest level of training in the most cost-effective manner.

Phase 1

Phase 1 will be online webinars. These will be a series of one-hour, interactive, open invitation programs that deal with the wide range of issues officers face when running a local. Topics will include:

• The nuts and bolts of building a better union

• AFM local compliance

• Filing AFM reports

• Government reporting

• Bylaws

• Structure of the AFM

• Member services

• Communicating with members

• New member orientation

These webinars will all be posted on the
AFM.org website after the “live” presentation and will continue to be a resource, available 24/7 to all officers. International Representative (IR) Barbara Owens is working with the other IR’s, staff, and officers to build and present these webinars.

Phase 2

Phase 2 will be two-day, intensive training immediately prior to each of the five regional conferences. (The first was scheduled before the Eastern Conference in April 2017.) At these retreats, issues that need face-to-face interactive training will be presented by a number of AFM staff and officers. Topics will include:

• AFM electronic media agreements

• Intellectual property

• Building allies, networking, and using social media

• Grievance and arbitration

• Duty of fair representation

• Internal organizing, orientation,
committee roles, and bargaining prep

• Understanding and navigating “right
to work” laws

Intensive is the right word, as officers will come out of these two-day sessions with a host of answers, along with a slew of new questions, informing and leading to the next level of engagement. They will also glean a new awareness about solving problems and dealing with the issues officers face on a daily basis.

Phase 3

Phase 3 will be a “by invitation,” semi-annual, three-day retreat in Madison, Wisconsin, at the University of Wisconsin School for Workers. This will be labor and leadership “big picture” training. While the specifics of the program are still in development with the university (first program slated for July 2017), topics may include:

• Labor/AFM history

• Leadership and diversity training

• Duty of fair representation

• Strategic planning/problem-solving

Our goal is to have participants emerge with a clear understanding that, as local representatives, they are leaders in the union business, as distinct from leaders in the music business. They will gain appreciation for member-driven collective action.

One of the most important takeaways of my training in 2002, and what we hope to instill in this new group of officers, is the building of relationships and a camaraderie that can be developed with and among each other that extends beyond the class itself, leading to a more cohesive Federation.

As I look around the Federation, many of the colleagues that I spent time with at the Meany Center in 2002 are current leaders within the AFM, and people that I can still reach out to for information and support when challenges emerge. That ability, trust, and mutuality came as a direct result of the training I received and is a key part of the outcome that we want to impart to this new generation of leadership.

If you are a local officer and have questions about these training options, feel free to reach out to your International Representatives. If you are a member, we hope you understand the value and importance of this work and will support and encourage your local officers to participate in upcoming training. Lastly, if you are a member wanting to explore a union post, contact me and let’s talk.