Tag Archives: pcc

Player Conferences Council Leaders Coordinating to Serve Musicians

by Marc Sazer, Recording Musicians Association President and Member of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) and Local 802 (New York City)

What do two bass players, a violinist, violist, and bass trombone player have in common? What kind of quintet is this? This is the AFM Player Conferences Council (PCC). We have begun weekly videoconference meetings which have become a much-needed bright spot in the midst of this devastating COVID-19 pandemic.

The PCC consists of the top elected leader of each Player Conference, currently: Meredith Snow for the International Conference of Symphony and Orchestra Musicians (ICSOM), Robert Fraser for the Organization of Canadian Musicians (OCSM-OMOSC), John Michael Smith for the Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA), Tony D’Amico for the Theater Musicians Association (TMA), and myself for the Recording Musicians Association (RMA). Our conversations have covered issues unique to each group of musicians, but we have also found that we are facing common issues of huge proportions.

Streaming media issues affect all of us, and the impacts and consequences are spreading in all directions. As soon as it became apparent that social distancing would cause cancellations of live performances, the leadership of ICSOM and ROPA began working with Symphonic Services at the AFM to help craft an approach to streaming media that would both work for orchestral managements and protect the long-term rights of musicians. RMA has similarly worked with the Electronic Media Division and the International Executive Board (IEB) on ways of helping support AFM employment through remote recording. Our regular PCC conversations help us grapple with the ways in which streaming issues in one area have implications for all.

And like many, we have begun sharing notes on Unemployment Insurance (UI).

It quickly came clear that Canada and the US have different systems and treat workers somewhat differently, and that each US state administers UI differently and pays different amounts to unemployed workers. UI systems have traditionally depended on contributions made by employers on behalf of employees, so musicians who were hired as independent contractors were left without coverage in times of unemployment. That includes both freelance musicians not covered by Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs), freelance musicians (particularly in California) who work under contract but through their personal services corporation, and a number of Canadian symphonic musicians who, under Canadian law, can be treated as independent contractors even when they work under a union contract on a regular, tenured basis.

Fortunately, both countries have seen the importance of providing some level of support for those left out in the cold during this catastrophic pandemic. Legislation has been passed on both sides of the border to provide unprecedented UI relief for both employees and independent contractors who are now unemployed.

Like so many of my colleagues, I have now for the first time filed my own claim for UI, and I have daily conversations with musicians wrestling with forms and websites, trying to gather information and survive being completely unemployed. We’ve benefited from information being gathered and disseminated by our AFM and many of our locals. The role of our locals in demanding good information from state and provincial bureaucracies has proved vital. But any way you slice it, this is hard for all of us.

I’d like to express my deep appreciation for Tony D’Amico (bass), Bob Fraser (bass trombone), John Michael Smith (bass), and Meredith Snow (viola) for their thoughtful and intelligent dedication to the welfare of musicians, and for their kindness and friendship.

Is Your Local Represented

Player Conferences — What Are They, and What’s Going on with TMA?

Occasionally, I have gone to speak to college music classes about the union, player conferences, and specifically the Theatre Musicians Association (TMA). Most of the students have inaccurate ideas about the union (AFM) and little or no knowledge of player conferences. This, of course, was the reason that I was there.

Each time I’ve done this, I’ve felt that the students not only enjoyed our presentation, but were also grateful for an honest representation of what’s really going on out there. However, I am surprised to encounter many union musicians, especially some who are performing in theatre pits, who have no idea about player conferences and their role in the AFM. I would like to illuminate folks on this issue. This may be redundant to some, but I hope informative to others.

In the AFM Bylaws, a player conference is defined as “A conference composed of representatives of member-musicians in specialized fields of employment.” Unlike the AFM and its locals, a player conference dedicates 100% of its focus on the genre it represents, i.e. theatre, orchestra, recording. There are five official player conferences in the AFM: International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA), Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM), Recording Musicians Association (RMA), and Theatre Musicians Association (TMA). Each player conference shares the common thread of having been formed by a group of musicians who desired focused representation of their group within the AFM.

The Player Conferences Council (PCC) comprises one representative from each of the five player conferences. The PCC meets several times each year via e-mail or teleconference to discuss what’s going on with their individual conferences, as well as mutual issues and concerns. It also meets annually (in non-AFM Convention years) with the Locals Conference Council (LCC). As stated in the AFM Bylaws, “The purpose of these councils is to exchange information and ideas on appropriate subjects regarding the good and welfare of the AFM, its locals, and its members.”

Speaking for TMA, I can honestly say that we have a great relationship with the AFM. AFM President Hair, the International Executive Board (IEB), and the AFM Touring/Theatre/Booking Division consult and keep us in the loop with all AFM theatre-related issues.

Player ConferencesTMA is a member of the AFM Pamphlet B Negotiating Committee, which is the contract for AFM musical theatre touring musicians. TMA also has its own Pamphlet B Committee, currently headed by TMA Vice President Walter Usiatynski, which prepares for the negotiations more than a year in advance. It does so through surveying our traveling and local members and one-on-one discussions with traveling musicians when they play shows in the jurisdiction of one of our chapters. We also compare notes with the AFM Touring/Theatre/Booking Division, headed by Michael Manley. He sends out a survey to touring musicians as well.

The AFM and the Broadway Theatre League have recently finished the first round of the 2016 Pamphlet B negotiations. TMA has a very active role on the negotiating team as it did in the previous negotiations in 2012. The present negotiations are scheduled to continue in July, after the AFM Convention.

TMA would like to congratulate the AFM on its historic 100th Convention! It will be held in Las Vegas, July 20-24. As a member of the PCC, TMA is allowed to address the AFM Convention. We will be speaking Monday, June 20.

I am proud to announce that the 21st Annual TMA Conference will be held August 22-23, 2016 in Washington, DC, at the Loews Madison Hotel. The Washington, DC, location was chosen to honor one of our newest chapters. We hope that you will be able to attend.

TMA is the AFM Player Conference devoted solely to issues and concerns of theatre musicians. We’re a voluntary organization. If you’re a theatre musician in the AFM, doesn’t it make sense to be a TMA member?