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Home » Recent News » What the Trump Administration Means for Musicians

What the Trump Administration Means for Musicians


by John Acosta, AFM International Executive Board Member and President of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA)

With many voters, pundits, and pollsters still recovering from the unexpected results of our last presidential election, I find that it is critical for us to focus on what this means for our union and how it may impact our members. There is no doubt in my mind that the focus by the trump administration to gut the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) will leave many musicians exposed to the whims of an avaricious health care industry and without the safety net provided by the ACA.

While the ACA was far from perfect, it did expand health care coverage for millions of Americans who would not otherwise be covered. In California, we are not taking the attacks on the ACA lightly. AFM locals in California are working with labor and community coalitions to not only protect our health care—but to go one step further—by expanding health care into a single-payer model or universal health care, much like we find in most of the first world.

With a new administration in Washington, DC, we can also expect attacks on labor itself with a less friendly, if not overtly hostile, National Labor Relations Board and legislation that seeks to gut a union’s ability to collect dues by enacting a national “right to work” law.

Now, you may ask, how does this affect me? Well, if you’re in a symphony, you may see more aggressive acts by management to violate your CBA. If members of your symphony orchestra are no longer required to pay their dues, you will have a less effective union with a weakened ability to represent you at the bargaining table or in grievance and arbitration proceedings. Recording musicians may see employers reinterpreting the agreements under which you work and dispensing with age-old practices that were unwritten but accepted industry wide.

Now don’t get me wrong, we should approach the new administration in Washington, DC, to find common ground. President Trump has stated that he wants to help American workers keep their jobs in the US. This is a concept we can get behind. We have already begun discussions about how we can best support this initiative as it relates to runaway scoring and recording.

The idea of placing tariffs on intellectual property produced outside of the US, making it less desirable for companies to outsource musician jobs, is something we hope to urge the administration to incorporate into Trump’s job creation program. Whether we will be received positively by the Trump Administration is still an open question, and whether there is enough common ground to make the next four years productive is yet to be seen.

As our former President Obama stated in the waning days of his presidency, “The best days are still ahead.” I believe this. We must continue to organize internally and externally, while we remain vigilant in the fight for better wages, working conditions, and dignity on the job.