I generally don't respond to campaign literature I post on the "candidate stuff" blog. Most of it is either content-free or consists of opinions. But the recent endorsement of Tom Lee by the so-called "recording ratifiers of New York" really deserves a detailed response.
There has been a long standing nonsensical practice in New York of allowing entrenched members of the RMA who lack the work history to ratify recording contracts to participate in contract negotiations, while simultaneously excluding AFM members who have the most experience in the field, and consequently, the most at stake in those negotiations. Tom Lee challenged this practice in recent contract negotiations for new Film, TV/Tape, and Commercial Announcement (Jingle) contracts. This “change” of policy has ruffled some feathers.
RMA is involved in national media negotiations because that's how the player conference system works. It's never been a requirement that people serving on AFM negotiating committees have to be eligible to ratify. Many Local officers would be barred from serving on any media negotiating committees if that were the case. In the symphonic world, it's not at all unusual for members of the ICSOM Media Committee, for example, to help to negotiate contracts to which one or more of their orchestras aren't signatories.
The "recording ratifiers'" argument would only make sense if one assumed that media agreements exist in complete isolation. But obviously they don't; what happens in one negotiation can have major impacts on negotiations for other agreements. The idea that the AFM should exclude representatives of RMA - which has long had official standing in the AFM as the rank-and-file group representing the interests of recording musicians under all the AFM media agreements - because the particular reps might be more expert in other agreements completely misses the reality that the media field is an ecosystem and not an archipelago of isolated agreements.
At the meetings that preceded the negotiations for the recent Jingle contract, bold initiatives were proposed by some of the AFM members who are the boots-on-the- ground participants in that industry. Strangely, the officers and RMA members that supposedly endorse “change” were uninterested in hearing these initiatives. Not surprisingly, politics trumped reason (as well as our lawyer’s opinion), and important ideas were resisted or ignored. This is all in spite of Tom Lee’s diligent efforts to include these important rank and file musicians from New York. The negotiations were thus selfishly hijacked and subsequently used as a forum to attack Tom Lee.
The "boots-on-the-ground participants in that industry" included by "Tom Lee's diligent efforts" were employers. The "boots-on-the-ground participants in that industry" were employers. TOM LEE'S "BOOTS-ON-THE-GROUND PARTICIPANTS IN THAT INDUSTRY" WERE EMPLOYERS, for Chrissakes! What part of "unions represent workers" don't these people understand?
There is growing evidence that a small but vocal group of malcontents made up of officers and RMA members from some of the larger locals would like to “change” the balance of power within the AFM in ways that would take away the smaller local's ability to override any initiatives made by larger locals working in collusion with each other.
The use of pejorative language ("malcontents," "collusion") is almost invariably a "tell" that the underlying argument is a weak one. What the "recording ratifiers" call "smaller local's (sic) ability to override any initiatives made by larger locals working in collusion with each other" is what people who believe in democracy might call "the tyranny of the minority."
There is simply no principled defense for a system in which a member of Local 802 has less voice in the election of AFM officers, or the passage of bylaws changes or dues increases, than do members of Local 8. The original Tea Partiers had a phrase that wonderfully described a system under which some people are taxed more than other people while having less voice in governance than those other people; they called it "taxation without representation." That's how the AFM works now.
There is little competition for work between the larger and smaller locals. Why then, is such “change” being proposed? It makes no sense. All locals will suffer if smaller locals are squeezed out of existence. How can the pension and health funds survive without contributions from a broad membership base?
Gosh; I thought the whole idea of the videogame agreements was to bring work to smaller locals against the wishes of the
Elders of Zion RMA leadership trying to hog all the work for themselves. I must have missed something. And are there any small locals who contribute significantly to any AFM health funds - or even the pension fund?
Hundreds of New York recording musicians, like us, are qualified to vote on and ratify union contracts. Yet, neither our Local 802 officers nor delegates will be representing our point of view and interests at the convention. We have been made a silent majority in our own work environment, and we will have no vote in the coming elections.
Well, that's what happens when you lose local elections. The elected officers will generally represent the point of the view of the majority that elected them. (The "recording ratifiers" still get to vote to ratify their contracts, of course; no one's proposing to take that away from them.) And, if like many of the members of "recording ratifiers," you're also employers, you might want to rethink asking the union that represents your workers to represent your interests as well.