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.
February 1, 2021Jay Blumenthal - AFM International Secretary-Treasurer
As you read my column this month, much will be different in Washington, DC. Our new president and vice president will have taken office, but only after an eventful and tumultuous final two weeks of the previous administration.
We all watched incredulously as a large group of malcontents descended on the nation’s Capitol, scaling outside walls, breaking windows, and gaining access to the Capitol building’s interior. Once inside, the rampage continued, breaking into the House chamber as well as many offices. This was a desecration of our most important and cherished symbol of democracy.
What makes this debacle particularly painful is that the whole world was watching. What we have always taken pride in is the peaceful transition of power. Unfortunately, that was not the case this time. The United States had always been the gold standard for how transitions should occur. This mob riot has left a horrible stain on the transition, one that will take a very long time to wash away, if ever.
That said, the world also saw how quickly the Congress was able to resume its important constitutional duties by certifying the electoral votes making Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the next president and vice president of the United States.
But there may well be a silver lining to the horrible events of that fateful day. We were headed down a very dark road politically, and this may have been the wake-up call we needed to realize just how fragile our democracy can be. Hopefully, we will learn from these events and the atmosphere in both the Senate and House can begin to improve.
Nearly lost in all the drama that day were the results of the Senate race in Georgia. It resulted in the election of two Democratic senators, creating a 50-50 split in the Senate with the vice president having the tie-breaking vote. This is a razor-thin margin. While a simple majority is all that is needed to advance a non-controversial bill, the passage of most controversial legislation is subject to a filibuster. Ending a filibuster requires 60 votes for a bill to advance, so it is critical to develop improved relationships across the aisle. So much can be achieved if our senators and representatives learn to work together for the common good.
The number of elected Democrats in the Senate creates a change in Senate leadership. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is the new Senate majority leader, and all indications are that the stalled $2,000 direct stimulus payment checks to Americans will be high on his priority list. If passed, this should be helpful to many musicians who have suffered greatly throughout the pandemic.
Pending Senate confirmation is Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, Martin J. Walsh, currently mayor of Boston. Walsh was the president of the Laborers’ Union in Boston and then headed the city’s Buildings and Construction Trades Council. His nomination has strong support among many labor leaders.
So there is a great deal of hope in the labor community that the new administration in Washington will mean brighter days ahead for working women and men. The first order of business must be getting the pandemic under control. Until that happens, musicians will not be able to return to live performance in any meaningful way. The slow rollout of getting people vaccinated has been very disappointing, but the new administration appears determined to expedite this process. Once we get the population vaccinated, we can hopefully return to a more normal work environment.