Now is the right time to become an American Federation of Musicians member. From ragtime to rap, from the early phonograph to today's digital recordings, the AFM has been there for its members. And now there are more benefits available to AFM members than ever before, including a multi-million dollar pension fund, excellent contract protection, instrument and travelers insurance, work referral programs and access to licensed booking agents to keep you working.
As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.
The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.
Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit www.afm.org/join.
December 1, 2020Bruce Fife - AFM International Vice President
None of us alive today are ever going to forget 2020. We are living within a perfect storm of crises, a string of earth-shattering events, virtually one after and on top of another. Obviously, this started in March with COVID-19 shutting our nation down and the resultant economic meltdown that has devastated our industry, and then the murder of George Floyd and a long overdue racial reckoning setting off worldwide protests and the resulting police accountability issues. If that wasn’t enough, let’s just add some hurricanes, floods, and fires to the mix.
In Portland, Oregon, where I reside, we have had over 135 days of protests between May 29 November 7, both peaceful and not so much. These protests have been focused on Black Lives Matter and related issues. Unfortunately, they have also been a rallying ground for extremists, on both the left and right. Many coming from outside our area sparked this state of affairs and the resultant loss of focus on the BLM movement; that was then further antagonized by our current president sending in troops to lock us down, regrettably stirring up even more trouble.
The only thing that reigned in some of the protests was smoke from the West Coast fires that made it virtually impossible to safely go outside for eight days. As one of our members said, with the COVID lockdown, we could at least take a walk and work in the garden. With the thickening yellow smoke from the fires, for several days Portland suffered the worst air quality in the world. We couldn’t safely leave our homes!
Today though, November 7, 2020, as I sat down to put my column together, it was announced that Joe Biden is our president-elect. I have to admit that a calm has started to flow over me. Yes, COVID is still raging, most musicians are unable to work in a way that creates any significant income, and I’m sure we will still have protests continuing in Portland, but maybe the “mood” of our protests will start to change. The current administration, whether you were supportive or not of its policies, has wreaked havoc across our country with lies, divisiveness, and chaos, which may still continue through Inauguration Day 2021. We, the people, should not allow that to happen.
As I sit here, there are at least two things to consider, regardless of your politics, which are critical for our union at this point. First, the current president has been horrific with his attitude toward unions. He hates us. His National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) appointees have been appalling and destructive. We’ve had to consider at every juncture the wisdom of filing Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) with this board. Why? Because their rulings have been so anti-union that they can/will set damaging precedent, which is certainly not helpful for us in the long term.
Second, many of the progressive changes put in place by President Obama were rolled back, but now we have what appears to be, in Joe Biden, one of the most union-friendly presidents ever. This should be a time of significant movement forward for labor. This gives us a chance to get legislation passed that will support our pension fund, radio performance rights, our ability to organize, limit off-shore film scoring, and so many other issues that need to be solved legislatively.
As important as that all is, it’s the way we get there that will be most critical. I believe the whole approach to governing has a good chance of returning to a healthy level of civility. Again, we all have our personal views on every issue, but we have to find a way to have those conversations and debates in a respectful and thoughtful manner, and lose the “divider-in-chief” attitude that has strangled any hope of moving our country forward in a positive way for the last four years.
Today is a good day. They’re partying in the streets, from DC to NY, Philly, and even in Portland. A weight has been lifted and it’s time for some positivity to reenter our lives, our union, and our country. We can do this. Together!