Apparently some... interesting... appointments were made by Tom Lee to the union-side negotiating committee for the recent Commercial Agreement negotiations:
May 25, 2010
Dear Fellow Musician,
My name is David Finck. I am a musician and union member. I write to you because of a deep concern about a development at our union, the American Federation of Musicians.
I am a bass player and a graduate of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity work with some of you when I was traveling with Rosemary Clooney. I also met some of you while on the road with Woody Herman's Thundering Herd. I now live in New York and as a proud member of local 802 l've been lucky enough to have played and recorded with some of my musical heroes like; Dizzy Gillespie, Andre Previn, Michael and Randy Brecker, Tito Puente, and even some pop stars like Linda Ronstadt and Rod Stewart.
Just for the record, you should know that I am not a candidate for any position at my local or at the AF of M. I am not a member of the RMA, any political parties here in New York, or any other unions.
I recently attended some of the caucuses that led up to the negotiations for the jingle agreement and was absolutely shocked by what l saw. These meetings were attended by people who run the production houses: the very people who hire us. Moreover, they were actually invited by President Tom Lee. One of these employers was even brought into Local 802 a week before the negotiations so that a membership card could be issued thereby allowing this person to attend the caucuses and be a voting member of our union. AF of M president Tom Lee and the IEB members that were in the caucus room ignored the protests raised by several of us. (Jingle houses get huge creative fees and are in business with multi-million dollar Madison Avenue advertising corporations ..... they are not in partnership with musicians.)
How can any musician speak freely when there are people for whom we work present at our caucus where proposals are being prepared? Tom Lee knows this. Having these employers at our meetings before we negotiate with them is an intimidation technique employed by a union president who seems to have forged relationships with management and desires to silence the voices of the very musicians whom he represents. It is exactly the kind of thing that weakens our union. lt cannot be tolerated. That the Lee administration created and endorsed it is unforgivable.
Additionally, musicians across America should know that the only proposal brought forth by our union seemed to benefit employers more than us. This is not surprising given that President Lee invited them to attend our strategy meeting. Many of us are now beginning to wonder what exactly the prevailing AF of M philosophy is. The current approach is certainly not succeeding at making anything better for the musicians.
This administration has been preaching to us relentlessly about 'capturing' more work but to date has done nothing to secure any. If you are going to try to capture work for musicians, you have to know how to sell us; not sell us short by suggesting that we lower our wages.
I don't know what Tom Lee and the IEB are saying to you folks in other parts of the country, but here on the east coast everything they say seems to lead to the defense and protection of their own jobs. Meanwhile, we are paying them to defend and protect us and fight for our jobs. These people have failed the musicians whom they are paid to represent. Their ideas only seem to result in chasing our work away, not expanding or capturing more of it. Their philosophy has failed.
lt is time that we make some changes and embrace a new future instead of a failed past.
I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings.
David Finck, Member, Local 802
I had originally posted this on the candidate stuff blog, as it was highly critical of a candidate for AFM president. But it raises issues that go well beyond the 2010 election, so I'm cross-posting it here as well.