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.

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Home » Officer Columns » Union Summer Kicks Off with May Day


Union Summer Kicks Off with May Day

  -  former AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

The summer 2015 officially kicked off for unions across the country with International Workers’ Day (or May Day) celebrations. Many AFM Locals took part in their cities. For a history of May Day and photos of several locals at this year’s May Day events see page eight.

Another annual event for unions is the Union Plus conference. This year’s conference was held in Denver, Colorado, and AFM Executive Secretary Nadine Sylvester took part, along with 29 other representatives of various unions. At the conference, she participated in workshops about money-saving benefits and services available to AFM members, including AT&T wireless discounts, mortgages, credit cards, and more. Here are some seasonal AFM Union Plus benefits you might not be aware of.

Union Summer

AFM Executive Secretary Nadine Sylvester (front row, fourth from left) was one of 30 international representatives that attended the annual Union Plus conference.

For entertainment discounts visit UnionPlus.org/Entertainment where you’ll find discounts for the following:

  • Root, root, root for the home team. Save $5 to $50 on tickets to Major League Baseball games.
  • Discounted theater prices at dozens of cities nationwide.
  • Save on movie tickets, plus avoid the lines. You can save up to 40% off AMC, Loews, Regal, Showcase, Rave, and other movie tickets when you buy them in advance.
  • Union Plus members can save up to $19 at one of 50 participating them parks like Disneyland, Disney World, Busch Gardens, Hershey Park, Sea World, Six Flags, and Universal Studio.

For travel discounts visit UnionPlus.org/Travel, where you can:

  • Book flights and find union hotels.
  • Save up to 25% on car rental from Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, or National.
  • Save $150 on worldwide vacation tours through Go Ahead Tours.

Have a safe, happy, and gig-filled summer!

On another note, as I read about Bob Popyk visiting with the Gatlin brothers, I was reminded of a sad 3:00 a.m. call from Patrick Swayze asking me to sing at his memorial. Being a wiseass, I asked if he had a backup band for me. He said, “Yes, a$@%!, I got you the Gatlin brothers.” Sure enough, all too soon, we performed together at Sony Studios, on the soundstage where the music for Wizard of Oz was recorded, with the memorial emcee Whoopi Goldberg dressed as the Wicked Witch. It turns out Patrick and the Gatlin brothers had written songs together.

AFM Members Take Part in May Day Activities

May Day, or International Workers’ Day, celebrates the world’s workers and the contributions they make to society. It’s a chance to promote labor issues of the day, like immigrant worker rights, living wages, and pension for jazz musicians in New York City.

It also commemorates the Haymarket affair. In 1886, Chicago was the center for a movement demanding an eight-hour workday. May 1-4, tens of thousands of workers walked off their jobs. When police fired on protestors at a May 3 strike, killing two, a meeting and demonstration was called for the following day at the West Randolph Street Haymarket. When police ordered protestors to disperse, someone threw a bomb, killing one officer and fatally wounding others. Police then fired wildly into the crowd, killing and wounding workers. In the aftermath, seven anarchists, not tied directly to the bomb, were sentenced to death. The trial, now considered one of the worst miscarriages of justice, focused on their writings and speeches. Not surprisingly, Chicago’s May Day includes a somber memorial gathering at Haymarket Square. Chicago Labor Federation Secretary-Treasurer Bob Reiter spoke at this year’s remembrance, tying the 1886 labor struggles to today’s worker challenges: “You see, back in the 1880s they fought for a living wage. They fought for the eight-hour workday. And they rebelled against the attacks, both on their wages and physically here in the city of Chicago.”

Local 8 (Milwaukee, WI) members Dennis Najoom and David Cohen performed taps at the conclusion of an informative and moving May Day ceremony organized by the Milwaukee Area Labor Council AFL-CIO. (L to R) are: Local 8 Secretary David Lussier, Dennis Najoom, AFM Symphonic Services Division Negotiator Chris Durham, State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Stephanie Bloomingdale, Milwaukee Area Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer and COO Sheila Cochran, and David Cohen.

Local 8 (Milwaukee, WI) members Dennis Najoom and David Cohen performed taps at the conclusion of an informative and moving May Day ceremony organized by the Milwaukee Area Labor Council AFL-CIO. (L to R) are: Local 8 Secretary David Lussier, Dennis Najoom, AFM Symphonic Services Division Negotiator Chris Durham, State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Stephanie Bloomingdale, Milwaukee Area Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer and COO Sheila Cochran, and David Cohen.

Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) Communications Director Linda Rapka, along with members Michael Ankney and Diane Lauerman, carried Old Glory from Chinatown to City Hall as part of a May Day march and celebration in Chinatown.

Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) Communications Director Linda Rapka, along with members Michael Ankney and Diane Lauerman, carried Old Glory from Chinatown to City Hall as part of a May Day march and celebration in Chinatown.

Local 802 (New York City) musicians led a May Day march at a rally to end income inequality. In the front row (L to R) are: Chris Bates (trombone), Jay Branford (saxophone), Kevin Blanq (leader, trumpet), Rick Faulkner (trombone). Behind them are Dale Turk (trombone), Stephen Schatz (drum), Brevan Hampden (drum), Kenny Bentley (sousaphone), and Paul Stein (melodica). Justice for Jazz Artists used the day to call attention to their cause: for the owners of the jazz clubs where musicians perform to contribute to a pension for the musicians.

Local 802 (New York City) musicians led a May Day march at a rally to end income inequality. In the front row (L to R) are: Chris Bates (trombone), Jay Branford (saxophone), Kevin Blanq (leader, trumpet), Rick Faulkner (trombone). Behind them are Dale Turk (trombone), Stephen Schatz (drum), Brevan Hampden (drum), Kenny Bentley (sousaphone), and Paul Stein (melodica). Justice for Jazz Artists used the day to call attention to their cause: for the owners of the jazz clubs where musicians perform to contribute to a pension for the musicians.

Local 10-208 members took part in a May Day rally held in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. On stage (L to R) are: Chris Clemente (bass), Vijay Tellis-Nayak (keyboard), Angie Pope (vocals), Dan Leali (drums), and Mike Pinto (guitar, band leader).

Local 10-208 members took part in a May Day rally held in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. On stage (L to R) are: Chris Clemente (bass), Vijay Tellis-Nayak (keyboard), Angie Pope (vocals), Dan Leali (drums), and Mike Pinto (guitar, band leader).







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