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


Home » Officer Columns » Could the Working America Concept Work for Musicians?

Could the Working America Concept Work for Musicians?

  -  former AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

One of the fastest growing organizations in the country is Working America ( It mobilizes working people 365 days a year, contacting them at home to talk about jobs, health care, politics, and items that working families confront daily. The AFL-CIO initiated Working America to target nonunion working people. These are people who do not have the benefit of collective agreements.

In the past seven years working America has grown to 3.2 million folks, half a million of whom are unemployed. This group has done things like delivering 75,000 handwritten letters to Congress on working issues.

Who joins Working America? Well, according to the website: 88% are white, 12% are of color, 33% own guns, 33% are weekly churchgoers, and 60% consider themselves moderate or conservative.

Working America mobilized and helped beat back “right to work” in West Virginia the old-fashioned way—door-to-door contact and mobilizing the working folks to contact the legislature to express their displeasure with “right to work.”

I, at my own expense, assisted in the Working America project in West Virginia after I received an e-mail from AFM Local 580 (Clarksburg, WV) President Gary Hamrick asking me to come home. He explained they were trying to push through “right to work” in West Virginia. Also arriving on the scene were AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and West Virginia Delegate Mike Pushkin.

A newly-elected liberal democrat, Pishkin is a force to be reckoned with. He understands the labor movement. A guitarist and vocalist, he was on the capitol steps singing “Solidarity Forever” and other labor songs with Trumka, as labor came out in force. Pushkin is not only a new delegate from Charleston, West Virginia, he is also the newly-elected president of AFM Local 136 (Charleston, WV).

It was a pleasure to meet with Delegate Pushkin, as well as Kenny Purdue, a longtime friend and president of the West Virginia Federation of Labor. I served on the CLC with Purdue’s father and I’ve known Kenny all of his life.

If you check the Working America blog on West Virginia “right to work” you will see firsthand accounts of working people mobilized to kill the “right to work” legislation. I was glad to hear one of the Republican senators say “right to work” is dead.

For the first time ever, West Virginia has both houses controlled by the Republicans. Working America will be working overtime in West Virginia with Pushkin’s assistance.

Working America is what I wanted to put into place with the AFM. I am hopeful that the IEB will let me launch the Working
Musician Connection
e-newsletter to appeal to musicians who are nonmembers, in hopes of mobilizing them around musicians’ issues. There are thousands of musicians who are not familiar with the AFM, but they are familiar with musicians’ issues like jobs, health care, and workplace safety. If I am allowed to start Working Musician Connection, who knows, some may join the AFM and work with us.

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