In less than a month, our Local 802 team will be attending the 101st convention of the AFM. This is the major gathering of the union, and it happens only once every three years. At the convention, delegates from all the AFM locals across the country cast their ballots to elect the international president and all of its officers, as well as vote on various proposals and bylaw amendments. Local 802 is represented at this conference by Janet Axelrod, Pete Donovan, Caryl Paisner, Javier Gándara and myself. (These positions were elected by members during last fall’s Local 802 elections.)
We intend to begin a dialogue at the AFM convention around the archaic rules of the AFM. Many of these rules are preventing us from growing the way we should. Clearly there is a need for fresh ideas, and it’s time for AFM contracts to reflect the realities of today’s music business.
As the largest local in the AFM, we at 802 will also bring several matters to the convention floor. The first issue relates to our ailing pension plan. By the time of the convention, we expect that the AFM pension plan will officially be in critical and declining status. We at Local 802 plan to make the pension an issue at the convention. We are proposing a bylaw amendment that would require AFM President Ray Hair to appoint trustees to the AFM-EPF board who are truly qualified to do their jobs. The task of overseeing actuaries and investment managers in a multi-billion dollar fund is extraordinarily complex. While training and education helps, it cannot possibly provide the kind of sophisticated expertise needed to do the job properly. Bringing experts onto the board would help make this board functional.
We will therefore bring to the convention floor a bylaw amendment that would require President Hair to appoint two experts to the AFM-EPF board: one in actuarial science and the other in investments.
We also intend to propose another amendment, related to the burdens of collecting recording work dues and royalties. The AFM requires locals in New York, Los Angeles and other cities where recording takes place to bear all the costs of collecting work dues on recording activity within their jurisdictions. While the locals do all the collecting, much of what they collect gets kicked up to the AFM. Because of declining recording revenue, Local 802 is losing money collecting for the AFM. We are therefore proposing that the AFM bear the cost of collecting the royalties and fees that are kicked up to them. It is only fair. We should note that the AFM currently has over $23 million of cash on its balance sheet and can well afford the cost of collecting its own work dues and fees.
Both of our proposals were published in the April issue of Allegro (as part of the Executive Board minutes of Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019) and in the May issue of the International Musician. You can find the full text here: www.Local802afm.org/allegro/articles/executive-board-minutes-214.
NEW YORK IS MUSIC MONTH
June is New York Music Month, and we’re honored to feature an op-ed in this issue of Allegro written by Anne del Castillo, the new commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. As Commissioner del Castillo writes on page 15, “Local 802 has been a key partner in our efforts to raise the visibility of NYC’s music industry.” We couldn’t agree more, and we’re eager to work with the mayor’s office to promote as much live music as possible. As part of New York Music Month, Local 802 will host “Make it Live: A Practical Approach to Getting Gigs in NYC and Touring” on Tuesday, June 11 at 5:30 p.m. here at the union. The session will highlight key subjects such as booking strategies, showcasing and pitching to presenters. Musicians will learn the building blocks to book local and regional dates and best practices for preparing for shows and maximizing turnout. Visit www.nymusicmonth.nyc for more.
June is Pride Month, when we recognize the history and contributions of the LGBTQ community. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion (or Stonewall “Riots”), which were sparked by a police raid on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the West Village. In this issue of Allegro, we are honored to present an article by Local 802 member Justin Vance about how LGBTQ visibility is rising in mainstream society, including Broadway (see page 10). We also present an article on page 9 by Jerame Davis, the executive director of Pride at Work, an AFL-CIO constituency group representing LGBTQ union members and their allies. Pride at Work organizes mutual support between the labor movement and the LGBTQ community to further social and economic justice. See www.PrideAtWork.org.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
You may notice that we’re featuring more members’ voices in our magazine. If you want to propose an article for Allegro, please e-mail us at Allegro@Local802afm.org. Here is just some of the great content in this month’s issue:
- Shea Scruggs and Weston Sprott share strategies to build more inclusive and diverse orchestras (page 22)
- Local 802 member Ken Hatfield explains why he became an activist for artists’ rights, and why musicians should join the Local 802 Artist Rights Caucus and Indie Musicians Caucus (page 38)
- Executive Board member Lynne Cohen writes about how labor activists of the past can give us much-needed inspiration today (page 16)
- Executive Board member Caryl Paisner writes about how we can encourage the rising generation of women theatre professionals (page 19)
- Harvey Mars gives us an update on how the Trump NLRB is weakening unions, and how we can fight this trend (page 25)
- We’re featuring more great photos in Allegro than ever before. In this issue look for photo spreads of Musicians of Broadway (page 26), Stars in the Alley (page 36) and an inside look at a Broadway cast album recording session (page 40)
- Dr. Don Greene continues his important series about performance psychology for musicians. On page 28, read his latest article about how when musicians try to be perfectionists, they actually do themselves a disservice.
- In each issue, we also publish information on free workshops and networking events for musicians. Our main calendar is on page 3, but I would like to highlight the free series of bodywork classes that’s coming up; see page 35 for details. This is a great opportunity being offered to us by the Actors Fund; don’t miss it!
In the past two months, Local 802 has sponsored two coffee hours, which are in-person meetings between union members and union leadership outside of the 802 building. It has been a useful and important way to dialogue and listen to 802 members’ ideas for the future. Our next 802 Coffee Hour will be posted at www.Facebook.com/Local802AFM/events.
Local 802 represents the musicians who perform on late-night live TV shows, like Saturday Night Live, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers. Right now, we are visiting each of the bands to touch base and introduce the new union administration. The main issue we’re dealing with is the lack of residuals for musicians when these kinds of shows are streamed on the internet. The future of that issue is in the hands of the AFM, which is responsible for those negotiations. We are in contact with the AFM to ensure that the voice of every 802 member who plays under this contract is being heard.
Local 802’s influence is growing beyond our traditional borders. On May 6, Local 802 President Adam Krauthamer was featured in a Rolling Stone article, where he said: “Income inequality and other issues in the workplace are never going to be addressed by individual musicians alone. Labor is the way forward. A lot of the business models changed overnight, and we fell really behind. I wanted to start adapting our practices here at Local 802 to what musicians are dealing with every day. Part of a new AFM initiative in New York, 802 Strong, involves reaching out to those in hip-hop and other communities that haven’t historically been represented by the union. We want them to educate us on what their business is like. And we hope to educate them on the value of being part of the union. There’s a discussion in the hip-hop world: Should rappers be in a union? My answer is, of course they should be.”
This article also prompted this letter to the editor, which was published in this issue of Allegro.