HOUSE INCLUDES PROVISION FOR INSTRUMENTS IN AVIATION SECURITY BILL
The AFM has been working energetically to ensure that a provision allowing musicians to carry their instruments aboard is included in legislation addressing the issue of aviation security. These efforts made an important advance on Nov. 1 when, with the help of Reps. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) and Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.), a provision was inserted in the House version that would allow musical instruments to be carried on board regardless of other carry-on baggage restrictions. The AFM formed a coalition representing over a half million musicians and other artists throughout the United States to lobby for the provision dealing with musical instruments.
The House bill passed by a vote of 286-139. It leaves baggage screening in the hands of private contractors, and represents a major victory for conservative House GOP leaders and the president, who strongly oppose federalizing baggage screeners. The Senate version of the measure would create a 28,000-person federal workforce to screen baggage.
(Republican leaders also tried to sneak “economic relief” for airline executives into the aviation security bill, adding a provision that would have exempted airline executives’ compensation from limits imposed by an earlier $15 billion airline bailout bill. But an outcry from members of both parties forced the leadership to remove the executive pay provision.)
THE FREEDOM TO TRAVEL ACT
As reported in last month’s legislative update, Local 802 has been working with Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) on efforts to enact the Freedom to Travel Act (HR-3143). As initially written, the bill would have provided an income tax deduction of up to $500 for individuals, and $1,000 for families, for money spent at New York City restaurants, lodgings and entertainment outlets. The bill has now been expanded to include tax deductions of $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for joint filers, for expenditures on travel, lodging and rental cars anywhere in the country. It would immediately raise the deduction for business meals and entertainment to 80 percent.
802 has been lobbying the entertainment industry and other unions to support The Freedom to Travel Act. Financial Vice-President Tina Hafemeister urged support for the legislation at an Oct. 23 press conference in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Others who spoke were Rep. Maloney, singer/songwriter Carole King, and representatives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and Actors’ Equity.
SEPT. 11 JOB LOSS HITS LOW-WAGE WORKERS HARDEST
A study by the Fiscal Policy Institute, released Nov. 5, reveals that the majority of jobs lost due to the Sept. 11 attacks were low paying positions earning an average of $11 an hour ($22,880 per year), mostly concentrated in restaurants, retail trade, hotels, air transport and building services.
New York City stands to lose 105,200 jobs, with 25,500 of those relocating outside the city and 79,700 likely to involve layoffs. Most of the jobs likely to involve layoffs provided opportunities for less educated, lower skilled workers. With the economy now in recession, they will face a particularly hard time finding new jobs.
“What this critical report tells us is not just that we have 80,000 people out of work in the metropolitan area, but that those workers will probably have to be retrained before they find suitable employment,” said Brian McLaughlin, president of the New York City Central Labor Council. “We can’t assume that people are automatically going to go right back to work once a slot opens up. We may need to devote resources to provide them with new skills or to create new jobs.” Many of the jobs lost were union jobs that provided good pay and health insurance, and they will be hard to replace.
MUSICIANS ARE NOT INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS
I have received several inquiries lately regarding filing for unemployment insurance. Since musicians are not independent contractors, they are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Section 511 of New York State Labor Law states: 1. General definition. “Employment” means (a) any service under any contract of employment for hire, express or implied, written or oral and (b) any service by a person for an employer (1-a) as a professional musician or a person otherwise engaged in the performing arts, and performing services as such for a television or radio station or network, a film production, a theatre, hotel, restaurant, night club or similar establishment unless, by written contract, such musician or person stipulated to be an employee of another employer covered by this chapter.
The toll-free number to call to apply for unemployment insurance is 1-888-209-1824.