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September 27, 2010


Coolhandluke (who hardly disguises her identity) should not be using this post about what has happened within the AFM to do Local 47 electioneering. Much as I do think she has done fine work as Treasurer/Secretary (she probably has my vote), what does any of this bitter rhetoric and self promotion have to do with the subject at hand? I hate it when she has made it so personal, as if no-one else serving on the Local 47 Board has any integrity or career success but her. It's not as if her arguments are not well thought out, or would not make great debate; there are two sides to everything, and I would like to better understand both sides. But, please not here. We need unity now, not more wars. Please save Local 47 matters for the appropriate forum.

I thought anonymous posts were not allowed here?

Gordon Stump, Local 5

An Independent Voice For A Balanced Board
I love my job and do it exceedingly well. It seems the very qualities that have brought me success in the Music Biz and then the Union Biz -- namely talent, hard work, intelligence, energy, creativity, integrity, gumption, thinking-speaking-writing independently, etc -- have now placed me out of the comfort zone of our Local 47 President.

It's a shame that the President of Local 47, who now sits on the AFM International Executive Board and as a Trustee on the AFM Pension Fund and is running unopposed for re-election here in LA, won't share these successes with the very folks (like me) who helped him attain these positions. Now that Local 47 is appreciated by the AFM, and expected to help find financial and other solutions for our Union, I especially want to participate. The challenges are daunting, the process will be long and difficult, but worth the effort. Our leadership should be committed to tackling tough issues with enthusiasm. We should welcome diversity and divergent opinions on our Executive Board because dynamic discussions and innovative actions lead to successful solutions.

So don't buy into the Trombetta Team rhetoric. First of all, it's always easier and cheaper to run on a "ticket" or "slate". Some members of Vince's ticket may be attached for expedience rather than ideology, and will vote, if not run, independently. There's an ample field of candidates, including incumbents who have rejected the Trombetta Team and have chosen to run as independents. I had considered an independent run, but was spared agonizing over loyalty when none was shown towards me. If you visit the Vince Trombetta website, you'll find Vince "begging" Local 47 members to vote his entire team. Ironically, that team contains replacements drafted when his "begging" of current Executive Board Members was to no avail. Ah, politics.

Let me give you some background on why Gary Lasley is Vince's choice for Secretary/Treasurer. Weeks before the AFM convention Vince submitted a package of proposals to change the Local 47 bylaws. Most had to do with the Executive Board and power issues, like those overwhelmingly defeated at our most recent General Membership Meeting. But the one that was like an arrow through my heart was a bylaw change further restricting performances by Titled Officers. By changing the word "the" to "any" in the following: Local 47 Titled Officers "shall not accept or perform any competitive musical engagements coming under the jurisdiction of the Local…", becoming: "jurisdiction of any Local…" he meant to stop me from performing anywhere.

Fast forward to our current election. Note the word ANY in Gary's first and foremost campaign statement, "I pledge that I will not accept ANY performing engagements within or out of Local 47's jurisdiction while I am serving as your Secretary/Treasurer." His willingness to put down his bass was either an opportunistic move to ingratiate himself, or Vince's price of admission to the Trombetta Team. Either way, I call it a sell out. Gary's signed on to be a "yes man" for anything Vince puts forward, including expenses and expenditures (I'm tough on that).

Several factors could have motivated Vince's proposed bylaw change: local or national criticism, or maybe because performing didn't work out for him once he became VP a few years ago. My union career path towards becoming Secretary/Treasurer was with the understanding that, as I approached playing retirement, I'd have at least a couple of good (out of jurisdiction) orchestras where I was tenured in which to play occasional evenings and weekends, and for some pet projects here or there for fun and artistic satisfaction. This would also keep me as a union officer in real touch with work place issues and colleagues. I felt betrayed. It was apparent he cared more about a few outside opinions than my wellbeing as his teammate, or the longstanding bylaw. He ended up withdrawing that proposal under Legislative Committee pressure, and also because a couple of my colleagues offered creative counter resolutions to address the question of when and how Titled Officers could perform. Vince pushed them to withdraw their resolutions.

And what's wrong with wanting to play? That's what we do as musicians. It's not a matter of money. Our members know this. What they may not know, however, is that when I first became Secretary/Treasurer, I called a meeting with President Trombetta and Counsel Levy to explore the possibility of a financial adjustment to my salary if and when I performed in the jurisdiction, in the hopes of finding a fair and creative way to best serve Local 47 and my goal to be an OFFICER who is still a MUSICIAN. I believe we need to promote the concept of artist-employee, artist-officer etc. Other entertainment unions do. This thinking was too out of the box at the time -- my willingness to account for every moment of my time and sacrifice money (in an effort to remain an occasional performer) was and remains too threatening to officers who are done playing and don't want their time monitored too closely.

Interestingly enough, Vince, John and Gary have convinced the "Old Boys" (past presidents Hal, Bill and Max) and my predecessor (Serena) that I'm not a "full time" Secretary/Treasurer. In fact, I spend more time at Local 47 than either Vince or John (or past presidents for that matter). I arrive early, stay late, take work home every night and weekends, and am available to members 24/7.

"All About Eve" – no, all about Gary and John …
I haven't mentioned VP Acosta. I'll only say that John aspires to inherit or seize the throne someday. That's what he and Gary have in common. They both want to take over the positions of people they work with. I worked side by side with Serena for years, content to assume her position upon her retirement. There was no need to kiss up. In contrast, Gary schmoozed all summer to secure past officers' endorsements. That's just not me. My successes in music and the union business have not come that way. When I became Secretary/Treasurer I handed Gary my former jobs, training him as Hearing Representative and Hearing Secretary. That didn't keep Gary from going for my job now. John will have to wait … until next election?

It seems obvious that Vince, Gary and John need to discredit me to justify Gary's place on their ticket. The ironic thing is that everybody at the Local counts on me -- the members, staff, officers, accountants, lawyers, committees etc. Everybody needs something and I seem to be able to provide it. I just go in to work and don't stop until I do what needs to be done each and every day. Long, busy hours are OK by me. Over the years I have amassed a huge body of knowledge and experience that truly helps run the Local with spirit and efficiency. I have already brought vision, innovation and inspiring leadership to this Local and will continue to be an independent creative voice in our future.

I must say that Antony Cooke has said it absolutely perfectly.

Dissatisfaction with Lee amongst sufficient additional local officers and the war with recording musicians gave Hair and his allies more than enough votes for a clear mandate to end the war and Lee's counter-revolution against the role of the player conferences.

I hope that the real truth comes out about Tom Lee's policies and the damage that they caused. The agreements that he made without any input from the working musicians are going to have financial repercussions for the rest of our careers.
Thank goodness righteousness finally prevailed.

Worse was the outright vilification of those who had so much to lose, and who had been paying the freight in totally disproportionate amounts - all while the AFM worked to effectively destroy the workplaces of those very musicians. It's hard to remember a union that sent out such hostile signals about its own members to the extent that they were sitting ducks for management to attack all that had been won so hard, all while the AFM worked behind the scenes to gut every contract possible, and politicize every appointment, without ever the involvement of the people concerned who were actually doing the work. There was never even the slightest recognition that perhaps the musicians in question represented the best in what they do, who risked all by relocating to a few big pools to try their hand with the big fish. Such employment opportunities were never going to come to Podunc Iowa (no offense intended), in spite of the promises made. Instead, just total disrespect is what the full-time pro got - for 9 years - such as "rich pricks', who got where they are by 'dint' of luck and connections, and especially a publicly stated desire to "take those LA guys down". What a union. And break-ins to the computers of Local 47 to boot for the West Coast Office. Lovely. Meanwhile, RMA, a reognized Player Conference, was shut out of everything, including the AFM's own publication. Old agreements were always broken, not one ever recognized. Clearly the AFM was on a path to the graveyard within a very short time, with very uncertain replacement not even in view. And Phil Ayling pilloried as the bad guy to distract for the real bad guys. Right out of the communist manifesto. And more red herrings to keep the masses riled up and on the wrong trail.

But what a magnificent outcome, with someone now at the helm of huge integrity and purpose - may not do everything every part of the AFM will like (be default we all have to compromise), but who will always seek to do the very best thing possible, and always with the input of those concerned. True leadership; true vision; true courage; someone all AFM members can get behind and lead us out of the pathological mess that Lee and his cohorts got us into. Thank you Ray Hair. You will be the one who steered the AFM back from the abyss, and to whom all AFM members ultimately will be grateful too.

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