Now that the floodwaters of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have receded and the focus of the press has moved on to other topics, AFM members affected by the storms are beginning to put their lives back together. We all sat horrified as we watched storm surge waters inundate businesses and residential communities, collapse buildings, and float cars and trucks as the hurricanes made landfall and worked their way inland. I can’t remember a time when three category 4 or 5 hurricanes followed so closely on the heels of one another.
The AFM mission guides our actions and helps keep us on course. It serves as an important reminder as to why our union exists. Putting our mission into practice improves the lives of all musicians. Therefore, it makes sense that the important voice of our union (the IM) should support our AFM mission when broadcasting our message. When our message is consistent with our mission, it helps us speak with one voice.
The IMEB has committed itself to making the IM a publication that reflects our membership, which is diverse in many ways. Musical diversity—various genres, instrumentalists, composers, orchestrators, conductors, and copyists all make up our large and beautifully diverse membership. Race, gender, nationality (Canada, US, and Puerto Rico), religious, political, cultural, and workplace diversity play a vital role in our mission. The IMEB believes our monthly publication should reflect this diversity, thereby following our national rule of law and generating interest for all members. By understanding and celebrating our differences, we become a stronger union.
I am not suggesting that the IM has not celebrated diversity in the past. It has, but the IMEB is now focused on efforts to foster the concept that together “we are the union.” As part of our renewed dedication to building a stronger union, we are surveying the membership about the IM to better understand your likes and dislikes. The survey will ask if you read the paper, and if not, why not. We also want to know what you enjoy reading in the IM and what articles you typically skip. And, of course, we want to know how we can make the IM better by making it more relevant and meaningful to you.
An important role of the IM is to inform and educate the membership. Often we want to become more involved in the things that directly affect our lives, but don’t know where to begin. Knowing what’s going on is important and is a first step to getting involved and participating in union affairs. A union needs an involved membership if it is to be a functioning, democratic organization that can influence policy and make positive change.
I truly hope you will take the brief (approximately five-minute) survey when the link is sent via email. The information you provide will help guide future decisions made by the International Musician Editorial Board. If you have not yet done so, please sign up to receive this link (and other valuable AFM news) at the AFM.org home page by submitting your information where it says “Stay Informed.”
International Musician Survey
As part of an ongoing effort by the International
Musician Editorial Board (IMEB) to make the International Musician (IM) a more relevant and interesting read, the IMEB will be surveying the membership about the IM. (For information on survey access, see page 3.) Our goal is to produce a magazine that helps foster our mission. You may be asking, just what is the AFM’s mission? The mission statement can be found by following the link http://www.afm.org/mission-bylaws/.
An important procedure for placement of orchestra audition ads in the IM requires the officer from the local whose jurisdiction covers the employer to approve the ad submitted by the employer. Sometimes an employer wants to advertise a position opening when, in fact, the opening is disputed by the local. The musician currently holding the position may have a claim under the contract that has not been resolved fully. To avoid undermining the local’s position, the local is called upon to approve the ad before the opening can be advertised in the IM.
Sometimes local officers do not approve (or reject) ads in a timely fashion. Without local approval, we will not run the ad. The IM has a tight publishing schedule, so local officers responsible for symphonic audition ad approvals should respond as soon as you receive the approval notice. If there is a reason for a delay in returning the notice, please immediately contact IM Classified/Audition Ads Manager Artie Parrilla at email@example.com and copy IM editor Cherie Yurco at firstname.lastname@example.org and SSD Director Rochelle Skolnick at email@example.com in your email.
Unions are all about improving the quality of life for hardworking men and women. The contractual gains enjoyed by bargaining unit members have a direct correlation to the solidarity within the unit. We are strongest and able to achieve maximum results in bargaining when we act together as one. Simply put, collective action translates into better contracts.
There are many ancillary benefits that come from being a union member. One such benefit is access to Union Plus. In 1986 the AFL-CIO founded a nonprofit organization called Union Privilege. The Union Plus programs harness the collective buying power of 13 million union members and their families offering a variety of exclusive consumer benefit programs. Credit card, mortgage, auto insurance, life insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance are just a few of the programs offered by Union Plus. Participating in some of the programs bring additional benefits such as strike, mortgage, and hospital assistance, as well as credit counseling with a free budget analysis, savings on prescription drugs, and discounts on movie tickets, car rentals, gifts, and flowers.
A little known benefit is the Union Plus Scholarship Program. Since the program’s inception in 1991, more than 2,800 union families have benefitted from the $4.2 million awarded to students who want to begin or continue their post-secondary education. This year I am pleased to announce that we have an AFM recipient from Local 105 (Spokane, WA). Kristin Joham will be receiving a $1,000 scholarship. She was one of 160 recipients. Congratulations to Kristin!
Next year’s scholarship application deadline is 12:00 pm (Eastern Time), January 31, 2018. More information about Union Plus scholarships and other Union Plus programs can be found on the UnionPlus.org website.
Department for Professional Employees
In 1977 the AFL-CIO formed the Department for Professional Employees (DPE) to meet the growing needs of professionals who are unionized. The DPE has 23 national union affiliates who represent more than
4 million professional, technical, and highly skilled workers. Musicians, actors, engineers, teachers, nurses, psychologists, and computer scientists are among those represented. DPE meetings provide a forum “to discuss matters of common concern and coordinate efforts to address them.”
Under the DPE umbrella is the Arts, Entertainment and Media Industries (AEMI). Entertainment unions that are AEMI affiliates meet regularly in New York City where we discuss issues that impact the entertainment industry such as federal funding for the arts (NEA, NEH, CPB), visas for artists entering the US and/or Canada, legislation that impacts Internet usage, and airline policies for musical instrument carry-on. These issues are important to musicians and AEMI enables the arts and entertainment unions to speak to the federal government with one clear and consistent voice.
Recently, I attended the DPE General Board and Quadrennial Election meeting in Washington, DC. I feel honored and privileged to have been elected one of the nine general vice presidents who serve on the DPE Executive Committee. I look forward to representing the AFM on the DPE Executive Committee and bringing our issues and concerns to that forum.
I’ve been hearing about the January National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show for years. Many of the NAMM Show exhibitors advertise in our monthly International Musician (IM) so this year’s show seemed the perfect opportunity to thank our advertisers in-person and talk to other vendors who could become potential IM advertisers. Since the IM is received by all of our 80,000 AFM members in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico, vendors who advertise in our official monthly journal are able to reach a very special segment of the market—working musicians who make their living making music. Continue reading
For decades, the AFM Bylaws have been very specific and clear about the ratification procedure for collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). The integrity of the voting process has been given the highest priority so that bargaining unit members can have confidence in the election process. Additionally, protecting the identity of the voter is imperative, allowing them to vote their conscience without the worry of employer retaliation or member-to-member pressure.
As technology has made electronic voting possible, many members have expressed a desire for locals to conduct electronic CBA ratification voting. Up until the recent AFM Convention, the International Executive Board had been reluctant to endorse electronic voting until such time as locals could ensure the integrity of the process. It was also felt that an in-person ratification meeting just prior to a vote was invaluable, allowing bargaining unit members to ask questions, discuss the terms of the proposed agreement with their colleagues, and hear the recommendations from their local officers and elected rank-and-file committee. In-person voting also motivates members to physically come to the union hall, which is always a good thing. Too often, the only time some members visit the union hall is to pay their dues. In-person voting provides one more connection to the local.
For years, voting by mail ballot has co-existed with in-person ratification voting. Mail ballot was never the preferred method of voting, however, some bargaining units have members who live great distances from the union hall. For these members, in-person voting could present an undue hardship and expense that would effectively disenfranchise them.
While the bylaws now allow in-person, mail ballot, or electronic ratification voting, the requirement remains that all voting must be done one way (either all in-person, all mail ballot, or all electronic). Voting cannot be a combination of two or three methods.
The bylaw passed at the last AFM Convention in 2016 (Article 5, Section 32(d)) allows electronic ratification voting with very specific restrictions. The new bylaw for ratification by electronic balloting states, in part:
SECTION 32(d). Ratification by Electronic Balloting
- If it is necessary to hold a ratification by an electronic balloting method (e.g. online, telephone), then all voting shall be done by electronic balloting, provided that ratification by electronic balloting has been authorized by the Local’s bylaws or action of the Local’s Executive Board, and provided that the Local selects an independent organization approved by the International President’s Office to conduct the voting. In all cases, the method of voting must (1) ensure that the member casting the vote is eligible to do so, (2) ensure that the member casting the vote cannot be identified with the vote cast, and (3) afford sufficient safeguards to protect the integrity and security of the voting system. Further, in the case of electronic balloting, an appropriate accommodation must be made for a voter who lacks the technology or equipment necessary to cast his or her vote.
iii. The International President’s Office shall maintain a list of one or more vendors whose electronic balloting services meet the requirements set forth in this Section.
The President’s Office has determined that the following vendors offer services at affordable rates that meet the bylaw requirements for ratification by electronic balloting:
BallotPoint Election Services: http://www.ballotpoint.com/
Election America: http://election-america.com/
This list is subject to change. Please check with the President’s office before conducting electronic balloting to confirm that the vendor you intend to use is still on the list.
by Rachel Dorfman, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 105 (Spokane, WA)
On August 11, 2015, I became the Secretary-Treasurer of Local 105 (Spokane, WA) after having been a rank-and-file member since 2002. Although I did not have a clear picture of what my new job would entail, I’ve always been grateful for the support and guidance provided by our union, especially when the Spokane Symphony went on strike back in 2012.