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July 14, 2005


The question highlights what's wrong with the thinking this year. Obviously, the Federation is a federation of *locals.* In that regard, the locals run the show, or decide who will be empowered to run the show for them.

The player conferences are not about running the federation. They are about making sure that the musicians in their respective sectors are properly represented in the contract negotiations and administration. When RMA says they want more input into the negotiations and administration of their contracts, that's *all* they are saying. That is *not* the same as wanting to run the federation. And when they are significant contributors to the AFM's treasury, that, I think, entitles them to at least that bit of voice.

It's the same thing as with our local symphony players.


Ask me next Wednesday. Seriously, some local officers fear that the PCs are a work around for members to avoid the local union and go directly to the AFM. This is not acceptable under our current structure. PC s are not the union and may not interfere with local union matters.

PCs act as lobbyists for the special interest of the PC, not specific member issues. These must go through the normal chain of command. PC lobbying is more general. That is ok.

PCs can and do assist local officers when asked because they are the experts in their industry. Folks do love to hate’um. They have helped me in the past and would never mess with Local 5 for many reasons.

See ya soon bro,


Hi Gordon,

The us vs them and it's genesis are well documented in the book : For the Record. Ok, that's the when and the why. Now, what is Dr. Phil telling us to do now?

I thank you for your enumeration of the division of tasks and jurisdictions between the federation and the locals. But where do the PCs fit into the plan, according to you.

Oh. Are you in the middle of an election? Is this a bad time for the question? LOL!



My name is David Brady, Local 8. I'm not running for ANYTHING!! Got that out of the way.

As a young member, out of college, I couldn't agree more with Tina's comment. I'm rather new to our industry, but have grown leaps and bounds in the past year because of strong and supportive local union executives and members. It's true, young people are clueless about our industry, they're clueless about negotiating wages, they're happy to get $60 for 5 hours of work (hey, it's money). One of the things that I hope that our local, Local 8, and maybe see other locals do is to establish programs, mentorships, to help young college age musicians break into the industry. They're the future (have been waiting to use that line). And with no one to help them out, they're going to continue to be taken advantage, and further, without knowing it, lower the wage standards that our locals have struggled to raise.

If you looked at the last presidential election, at least in Milwaukee, exit polls indicated that this was the highest college student population turn out in recent history. When motivated and educated, you've got quite the powerhouse of people willing to stand up for each other's rights.

Thanks Tina for your post. This post is dedicated to Dave 1.

Hi Pete,

First, Thank you Robert for highlighting my question post.

Pete wrote:

"Then we won't have a UNION, will we? Nor should we be affiliated with the AFL-CIO."

There you go mixing apples and oranges again, Pete. Why is it when we try and discuss stuff with you Pete, you go off on a tangent and insert into a discussion all sorts of external issues?

Seriously, I may not envision members of my local's orchestras walking into a bar, record label or casino to negotiate with bikers, mobsters or corporate lawyers. I may dream of them on a freelance picket line and we on theirs, as Paul Sharpe and I did recently in Montreal.

I don't see what that has to do with the AFM being part of the AFL-CIO. I assume or guess you mean that this concerns pan-labor solidarity? If so, indeed that is another discussion.

If we the Federation, locals and Players Conferences all went to see Dr. Phil, (read: Ask Paul McCarthy for a totally objective report.)

What would he tell us all?



(Where's that gaffer tape? )

From "Great Labor Quotations":

"It says something about the labor movement in America when both pianists Van Cliburn and Jerry Lee Lewis are in the same union".

Mark Russell

Hey PH,

That is the $64,000 question the green monkeys,(the futures sub-committee I chaired) tried to answer Paul. I have always tried to discover when and how the "us and them" evolved. Simply stated the Federation is the glue that holds all the locals together with the AFM Bylaws. Considering the fact that there are two countries, hundreds of locals, diverse musical expectations, (and you can just add dozens of other challenges here) it is a miracle more aberrant local situations have not come up.

That brings us to electronic media. (By the why, I know you guys already know all this stuff so I guess my friend and brother PH is probing us). The Feds handle recording and broadcasts and supervise symphonic electronic media. All of this was originally designed to provide and protect industry standards.

The Feds are also watch dogs for members when their rights as members are just plain squashed. The Federation tries to avoid Unfair Labor practice charges and Federal Lawsuits in the locals. In a way they act like the Federal Government in the states regarding civil rights and other federal protections.

The Federation acts as the publicist and lobbyist for the locals and their members’ issues.

The Federation administers traveling agreements and a North American referral service.

The Federation provides negotiating assistance for symphonic and sometimes theater matters.

The locals do all the rest!!

The Federation does not recruit, maintain and service the members. The locals are charged with that duty. This is where the “us and them” gets dicey.

Locals: “The Federation lost 200,000 members…..throw the bums out”
Feds: “The locals keep losing our members……why can’t they be more like us?”

Then there are the PCs. Where the f#$k do they fit in? So, PH, as know more than most, we have lots of work to do regarding relationships. I have been married to the same women 37 years and if I do not work on it everyday it goes real bad real quick.

We have a great deal of work to do on self-discovery before we can ever grow. That is the real challenge and some just will not go there.



Paul Harwood wrote:

"I have often remarked that session and symphony players were not going to march down to the pay to play nightclub and solve our freelance problems, nor do they wish to, have time to, or need to. Freelancers have to do this."

Then we won't have a UNION, will we? Nor should we be affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

We can't expect to amass collective power when we only look out for #1. Let's at least make it appear as though we're trying.

In Solidarity,
Pete Vriesenga
The REFORM candidate.

Hi Paul!

I have a tendency of writing novels, I'll try to keep this short!

We're all musicians. We all have to stand up for one another. The music business is a small world and we are all interconnected at some point.

Pay to play devalues musicians and it's only a matter of time before the same mindset works it's way up (downloading). Young musicians are easy prey in these situations which is one of the reasons I'm hoping my "Apprentice Membership" resolution will pass. Somebody needs to teach kids about the business and wouldn't it be great if it was the AFM! We can't force them, but we can entice them and my position has always been that our strength will be greater than ever when musicians choose to be members.

Time is always an issue for musicians, so as Officers we have to make sure that time is used wisely. Of course a great tool that can be about as effective as pickets, is the internet and E-mail. We plastered the Mayor and the City Council and got language added to a City contract that requires that "performers must be compensated". I wrote the message and all anyone else had to do was alter the name at the bottom and send.

WE need to be using our resources and working in the best interests of all musicians. WE have to accept our differences, identify our commonalities and work toward mutual benefit.

That's the short answer!

Best wishes,


When we fought and WON against Pay To Play in Local 12 in Northern California back in the mid 1990's we had musicians from AFM Local 12 some who played in the now Defunct Sacramento Symphony, We also had Wife's and girl friends and boy friends of the local musicians on the picket line.

If Internal problems had not sabotage our efforts (Ie: the Joe Benson Factor) we would have had more people from different parts of the membership helping on other picket lines when needed.

We had open then door to cross generations of musicians from every different musical style helping each other, that is the AFM I want to help build and it is worth working for.

I was told by a member who was a percussionist in his late 60's at one of the first membership meeting I was introduced at "That those Rock drummers do not know even how to Tune their drums"

I told him "that you are correct some do not know how to tune their drums"
, Do you? He said yes and I asked him have you ever offer to impart your knowable of tuning drums to the next generations as a mentor to an apprentice?

He said no, I never thought of doing that?

It was the start of understanding each other over coming the age difference and becoming friends.

I do not think anyone has really ever tired to bridge the gap before, I wish it was done when I was in my first years playing music I would have welcome a such mentor and it would have been better than to struggle through musical barriers without their knowledge and life experience as a musician who has already made it to a higher level of skill.

I want to open the door to what it is to be union we all watch out for each other and when the call goes out to defend our union, we come together.

I read a book were former AFM International President Marty Emerson said "what hurts one hurts all", this is true....

But I wonder why another AFM candidate is using it in his letter as if he was the first to say it?

hmm Maybe the book I read was wrong?

Members are busy with their own life's, familles and careers and may not want to help and maybe they will be inspired to walk a picket line for a few hours when needed, write a letter if the union needs help to protect other members, this helps protect AFM market Share.

We may not have to like each others music that we perform, but we would be stronger as a union if we honored each others Sonic Labor across musical styles, generations and work places.

You asked:

"The question then becomes who does what in this federation of locals, and more importantly who has control and of what?

As International President I want to bring plans, ideas and concepts to the table and if the locals back them then we can hit the ground running.

When we agree on a plan(s), the AFM will become unstoppable and all musicians will benefit.

I like working with people and unions are in the people business and I love it when a positive plan comes together and we all come together to change our world around us.

I ask all of you to fight for "More For The Musicians" concept, notice I left the 2nd "O" out of the title, it is not my name I want to promote, but the concept that my campaign is named, that should be at the top of our list as The AFM needs to get More musicians and more pay, contracts and benefits for the members.

I want your vote, but meet me first before you give anybody your vote for President you will either like me and what I have to say about your questions or you will not?

Then vote for the future of the AFM based on what you think is best and who you think can do the job.

Paul, you asked who has the control? in your post above,

I say that the delegates have the control and the power to change the future via union democracy.

I am ready to go to work for the AFM, but I need your authorization.

The choice is and has always been and will forever be the delegates choice and this time the menu of candidates is very large you can vote al cart or pick a whole slate or part of a slate substitutions are allowed and its up to you.

I think we will all look back years down the road and at what a wonderful turning point the 96th convention was.

I am grateful to be a part of it even if history records me only as a candidate rank and file member.

See all of you very soon!


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