For more than ten years it has been recognized within the AFM that the Federation was in a precarious financial situation. At conventions in 1991 and 1993 compromise revenue and expense packages were put together that were meant to address this escalating problem. It reached crisis status at the 1997 convention when the AFM’s auditors stated that, in their opinion, there existed “substantial doubt about the Federation’s ability to continue as a going concern.”
As a result of the alarm created by this language, the 1997 convention’s Joint Law and Finance Committee crafted a package of recommendations increasing the Federation’s revenues and severely limiting its expenditures. While these changes have kept the AFM solvent over the past six years, expenses have continued to increase at a greater pace than revenues, and, once again, serious cuts in personnel and services had been and were being implemented.
With all that as a background, going into the 2003 convention, attempts to solve the continuing dilemma were coming from different directions and proposing different sources for increased funding.
On the one hand an IEB Recommendation proposed increases in the Federation per capita dues of $10 per member spread over the next four years.
On the other hand, several resolutions from individual delegates asked for increased AFM symphonic work dues (payable principally from locals) and a 2 percent work dues on special payments fund distributions, monies not now subject to work dues. These were presented as an alternative to the increase on per capita dues.
The proposals created a potential split between the many locals fearful of increased dues of any kind and several of the Player Conferences, chiefly the RMA.
(Per capita dues are paid by all members; work dues are paid only by those doing the work. The RMA vehemently opposed the special payments work dues and attended the convention in large numbers so as to be able to express their disapproval.)
The Joint Law and Finance Committee, co-chaired by Local 308 (Santa Barbara) President Harry Chanson and myself saw two problems to be addressed.
We needed to come out of the convention united in our policies and secure in our finances. To do this we needed to avoid the battle we saw coming over who was to pay and we needed to create a solution that would provide the AFM with real dollars.
This could not be solved, we realized, in three days by a 31-person committee. So we appointed a subcommittee of seven to meet over a 24-hour period and bring back to us a recommendation. Much to our surprise and delight, they did just that.
(The subcommitte was Ray Hair from Dallas/Ft. Worth; Bruce Schultz from Tulsa; Fred Sautter from Portland, Ore.; Bill Skolnick from Toronto; Melinda Wagner from San Francisco; John Lindberg from Norfolk; and Dick Melikian from Springfield, Mass.)
That subcommittee’s package, in somewhat altered form, was presented to the convention on Tuesday night and, with one amendment, passed overwhelmingly on Wednesday. It is intended to bring to the AFM, beginning in 2004, an additional $1 million or more annually. (Read it in its entirety here.)
Increased per capita – $2 each year for the next four years – accounts for nearly $182,000; the retention by the Federation of 0.5 percent more on the 12 percent clip use work dues (the portion going to the locals will be reduced to 1.5 percent from 2 percent) will bring another $20,000; an increase in Federation symphonic work dues to 0.55 percent (from 0.5 percent) obtains $161,000; elimination of the local’s portion of traveling work dues gives the AFM $47,000; and for the majority of the increase, a newly imposed tiered payment schedule for fees to be paid to the Federation by musicians receiving special payments distributions amounts to approximately $700,000.
In the end, the convention was unified and the feeling was positive. We are all feeling the pain, but this union belongs to us all.
It is evident that working musicians are providing the lion’s share of the new monies and I’m certain they will be expecting more effective representation. They should get it. They are the reason the union exists.