by Marc Sazer, President Recording Musicians Association and member of Locals 47 (Los Angeles, CA) and 802 (New York City)
The 2018 Recording Musicians Association (RMA) General Conference met November 2-3 at Local 802 in New York City. Delegates from New York, Nashville, and Los Angeles gathered to share reports, discuss issues, hear from local and AFM officers and staff, and hold elections.
This year a new generation of delegates attended, bringing together varied experiences and perspectives. New faces included Devin Malone of Local 257 (Nashville, TN) and Martin McClellan and Allison Allport of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA). Our newly elected RMA Executive Board reflects this new generation of musicians: President Marc Sazer of Locals 47 and 802; First Vice President Danny Rader of Local 257; Second Vice President Roger Blanc of Local 802; Treasurer McClellan; Secretary Allport; Executive Officer Malone; Executive Officer Lara Wickes of Locals 7 (Orange County, CA), 47, and 308 (Santa Barbara, CA); AFM Convention Delegate Steve Dress of Local 47; and Alternate AFM Convention Delegate Malone.
On November 2, RMA hosted a forum open to all AFM musicians, titled “Musicians/Media/Union.” The panel gave a PowerPoint presentation on the history of our current pay structure for streaming in live TV, film, and television film. A successful, wide-ranging round-table discussion with the attendees and panel followed the presentation. It ended as Local 802 meetings often do, with musicians leaving for work on Broadway shows and in concerts.
AFM Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal gave a comprehensive report on AFM finances, AFM negotiations, the status of the AFM office relocation, preparations for the 2019 AFM Convention, and other issues that affect us all. Local 802 President Tino Gagliardi welcomed the conference and described his history of involvement with negotiations both on Broadway and for national contracts, as well as his long participation in RMA.
Electronic Media Services Division Director Pat Varriale provided a comprehensive report on the status of negotiations and current media issues. He participated in discussions with the delegates as a valued team member throughout the conference. Local 802 Recording Supervisor John Painting helped us analyze wage and other data that is critical to our understanding of employment trends across the different contracts and cities.
AFM Rank-and-File Representative for Live TV Negotiations Jason Poss of Local 47 joined our conference as a guest and participated in our open forum. His broad knowledge of the history of negotiations, contract issues, and the real-life functions of our contracts greatly enriched our discussions.
One issue we discussed in some depth was the importance of touring to musicians’ lives and finances. AFM Director of Organizing Michael Manley, who was previously AFM Touring/Theatre/Booking director, spent a very productive session with the delegates from each of the cities. He discussed the different kinds of tours that travel across the continent on a regular basis and what strategies the AFM might employ to bring benefits, coverage, and predictability to at least some parts of this industry.
The conference reviewed reports prepared by the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund, the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Fund, and more. We walked our way through the pension fund website online, reviewing the professional and effective legislative advocacy resources available to all participants.
A new committee was formed to help musicians lobby US Congress on behalf of pension reform that will provide a lifeline to our pension fund. This is an effort we have discussed in the past, which we will all be ramping up.
RMA would like to express our deepest gratitude to the officers and staff of Local 802 for being such gracious hosts. We came away from NYC with a new and energized team—stay tuned; you’ll be hearing more from us soon!