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Home » Legislative Update » The AFM’s Coordinated Federal Response to COVID-19

The AFM’s Coordinated Federal Response to COVID-19


As the scourge of the COVID-19 virus rips through the arts and entertainment community with devastating effects, AFM officers, the International Executive Board, and senior staff have coalesced daily, internally as well as with other AFL-CIO affiliate unions and music groups, to help guarantee that working professional musicians’ voices are heard clearly on Capitol Hill, the epicenter of COVID-19 federal policy and decision-making. As legislative work on the virus advances across the Capitol, it remains incumbent on this office to keep AFM members apprised of any new policies and coalition work in place.

FYI, at the direction of President Hair, the Washington office regularly engages the following organizations: AFL-CIO President’s Subcommittee on Pensions and Retirement Security, the AFL-CIO Legislative Committee-COVID-19 Working Group Taskforce, and the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees, which all interact almost daily with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s special coronavirus outreach offices.

The union has several principal goals. First, to effectively engage the federal government at the highest levels to ensure that working musicians are included in all policy decisions. Secondly, to look out for the health and safety of our members on and away from the worksite, preventing unscrupulous employers from taking unnecessary advantage of our hard-won agreements. Third, to provide meaningful guidance and financial resources whenever possible. Fourth, to the extent possible, help keep you on your employers’ payrolls. And last but not least, to help you analyze federal policy and provide the resources necessary to keep you engaged in advocacy so that your legislators will hear directly from you on the issues that most directly impact your lives.

On the first count, President Hair and Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal, with help from the AFM Legislative Office, have been engaged with the AFL-CIO Legislative Department as well as with the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees AEMI unions, to help outline specific needs of entertainment unions/professionals to be submitted to the Speaker of the House Representatives and to the US Senate as each chamber formulates specific policies needed to keep working artists whole. These challenges have seen the successful inclusion in the CARES Act of W2 wage earners, musicians working in the gig economy, music contractors, and part-time music/entertainment workers.

Secondly, the AFM has supported the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for artists in the workplace and for first responders by supporting AFL-CIO guidance for workers in other professions who risk their lives daily looking out for the infirm. The AFM has also initiated a system of “social distancing” among staff and officers encouraging all AFM locals to follow federal, state, and local guidelines that help prevent the spread of the disease. Though COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on our industry, our continued engagement with federal officials to help identify financial resources and encourage federal relief for distressed arts organizations and artists is partly our best weapon to help bring safety and some financial relief to our artists. Examples of our advocacy can be found in the document QR codes in the sidebar.

We invite you to visit our COVID-19 Resource Page along with the April 2020 International Musician, which both offer in-depth background information and can be accessed by members on our homepage at In the meantime, we will continue to work Capitol Hill and bring you the latest updates that impact your working life as an artist and creative professional.

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