« Reflections on the Baltimore mess | Main | More thoughts on St. Louis »

August 02, 2005

Comments

Who is censoring the AFM in Trouble and AFM AFMaHead Blogs?

posted on AFM in Trouble blog 8/9/2005 8:40 a.m. west coast time
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Last night I signed on and came to this blog (AFM in Trouble) and there was a post who agreed with me and used my name, not sure who it was but it was not me who posted it? I signed on to this blog now and the post has been removed?

The posted agreed with me on something I said and bashed Ken Shirk, so whom ever removed it must have been Ken or a supporter of his.

If you censor blogs your blog is nothing more than a FRAUD.

If I keep seeing AFM BLOGS that are bias and one sided Censoring posts from other people I will, Create an AFM Freethinker Blog and it will never be censored.

And the "fascists" with in the AFM that keep trying to STOMP OUT free Speech will have no control over the AFM Freethinker Blog.

Fascist behavior is apparent in censoring the blogs, censorship is not a trade unionist principle.

The only way the AFM will have peace and growth is if all voices are heard.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AFMaHead blog blocked me right after the convention for what ever reason, a post said get back to the Issues not the Local 12 thing.

I agreed and posted 2 issues Re: the 1978 disclaiming of Interests of ALL CLUB MUSICIANS within the AFM.

Why the AFM needs to organize.

The next post I went to put up I found I was blocked for AFMaHead.

Robert had been fair enough not to block me from this blog or the other one and that shows he is allowing vocies to be heard and Robert and I have disagreed on things before but he is not censoring me from the blog.

I have come to learn that others are blocks from other AFM blogs if they say something that is not cool with thoses running those blogs.

AFMaHead's blog mission statement says "Those who have been made to feel unwelcome in the AFM are welcome here" (or something to that effect)

AFMaHEAD is a fraud unless it opens back up and lives up to it's mission statement.

What a great article and an equally great subsequent discussion. Having actually founded a 501(c)3 with the mission to raise money for gynecologic cancer research and treatment, I feel compelled to weigh in on this issue of “nonprofits earning a profit”.

This is a widely debated issue which tends to miss the point more often than not.

First: there’s more than one legal classification for nonprofits as recognized by the IRS. I won’t go into all of them now because it’s just too complicated, but you can visit the IRS web page to learn more on your own. But for the sake of discussion, we’ll use the nonprofit status most orchestras are organized under. In the eyes of the IRS, orchestras manufacture a product (or deliver a serve, your choice) which they deliver under the intent of contributing to the public good. This enables them to solicit and collect donations which are tax deductible for donors. As such , one of the qualifying aspects of being granted nonprofit status is that in order to fulfill the mission of serving the public good, the respective organization would not be able to accomplish this task without directly contributed support.

Second: Nonprofits can not be established or operate under the auspices of personal gain. This is to prevent nonprofits for distributing “excess revenue” in the form of dividends or returns in the same way publicly traded for profit companies operate. It also prevents the organization for behaving like a privately owned for profit institution which usually benefits a single individual through their consumption of excess revenue over expenses. That’s really what the term “profit” is referring to when you discuss nonprofit vs. for profit status.

Now, having framed that discussion orchestras operate very much like any government based service organization, such as the post office. The post office needs to cover the expense of fulfilling their mission (delivering mail on all federal or state owned post roads). As any one area expands in population the cost of delivering that service increases. Thus, the need for additional revenue.

What’s important to consider is that the term “profit” isn’t being confused with raising enough funds to cover expenses and expand the public good oriented service.

Orchestras are similar in that as they increase their services (play more concerts) they need to increase revenues in order to cover those expenses. Where they are different (and is one of the reasons they are classified as nonprofits) is that they can not cover the expenses of a concert through earned income alone (like the Post Office does). In all cases I’m aware of, the only way they can accomplish that task is to raise a sizeable portion of funds from private sources. Therefore, Robert’s original statement that “Orchestras are non-profit institutions precisely because they lose money on every concert.” is accurate from the standpoint that in order to fulfill their mission objectives, they must rely on contributed income from non earned income sources.

Whether or not you feel like debating the term “precisely” is a bit of a red herring to me because it’s the intent which counts more in this case. And frankly, taking the time to debate individual words is better left for contract negotiations. If I’m wrong in the way I interpreted Robert’s remarks, I’m sure he’ll correct me.

I’ll leave off with a bit of head-scratcher regarding the nonprofit status in orchestras. The IRS implemented a comprehensive survey or executive compensation among nonprofits last year because they became concerned that too many nonprofits were abusing the above mentioned issue of how nonprofits should not benefit a single individual through their consumption of excess revenue over expenses.

In particular, they singled out orchestra who pay their executive administrators (usually music directors) more than $1 million in annual compensation. The argument here goes is the expense of the salary a justifiable means to deliver the service which benefits the public or is the nonprofit abusing its status for the benefit of a few individuals by allowing them to earn exuberant annual compensation? Chicken or egg?

The IRS is still investigating…

Best,
Drew

MTM wrote:

"If I am wrong on this post please ignore it and pretend I am sitting here NAKED drinking a Beer."

That might be a more accurate picture than your post. Then again they might be equally accurate :)

Pete Vriesenga wrote:

" * Please be patient while I try to get this straight:
* 1) The orchestra (both management and musicians) are under pressure to fulfill their nonprofit mission to public satisfaction."

That's true of any orchestra dispute but don't lose sight of the fact that the musicians were receiving considerable support from the public as proved by the amount of money raised by benefit concerts and letters. Even the press was calling for the mayor to intervene to settle the dispute. (that's press support in St. Louis)

" 2) The NLRB informed the Local that they would rule in management's favor."

Correct

"3) Despite the impact of 1 & 2 above, the Musicians' Negotiating Committee, the Chair of ICSOM, and the "senior performing arts labor attorney in the known universe" are determined their planned strategy of not filing the 8D notice will ultimately pay off and that the musicians should stay the course."

Not really, the above named were looking for many ways to get the management back to the table and resume bargaining. The 8D was just one part. Also you might remember that the Orchesra/union also filed unfair labor charges against the management.

" 4) The Local VP disagrees and is forecasting further trouble when stating "as the orchestra goes, so goes the Local."

Among the list of reasons why an orchestra/union should settle a dispute, consideration of work dues revenue to the union should not be on the list since it appears that the union cares more for the work dues paid by the members than the opinion and long term welfare of the members.I thought that statement by the VP was very revealing of where his priority is.

" 5) After careful consideration of 1, 2 & 3 above, the musicians reject the recommendation of the committee only to heed to the advice of the VP and vote to accept a concession."

Nope! The Committee recommended that the orchestra accept managements last contract offer at the ratification meeting. Also you are wrong to assume that the orchestra voted to accept a concessionary contract. The salary before the dispute began was $74,000 a year. When the dispute began the managements offer was for a three year eight month contract that ended in the final year with a $73,600 a year salary. In other words the management was offering to pay us less after 3 years than what we were currently being paid. Thats a concesionary contract. The contract that the committee recommended was a contract that ended with a $76,000 yearly salary in the final year and $6500 in signing bonus money paid as $2500 the first year of the contract and $4000 the final year of the contract.

"THEN

6) The Committee, the labor attorney and the musicians, unhappy with the outcome of the vote, blame local officers for pressuring the musicians to concede to management."

Since the committee recommended the contract I don't see how they could be unhappy with the outcome of the vote and the labor attorney did not argue against accepting the contract at the ratification meeting. There were and are a substantial number of musicians who were unhappy but that was to be expected given the highly emotional state of the orchestra after 8 weeks of dispute.

"7) Local officers, unhappy at being the target of criticism, file a complaint with the NY Bar Assn. about the conduct of the labor attorney."

You can't make that assumption since the local officers refuse to explain to either the orchestra or the Local Board of Directors why they filed the ethical complaint.The issue here is Local officers operating without the consent of their members or their Board of Directors. The orchestra is very unhappy about that.

" Am I close? / Pete Vriesenga"


Afraid not Pete. / Brad Buckley

If I read Pete's post right and understand it, should this not be a "Failure to Represent" or a misrepresentation of some sort?

It sounds like what happen to the Sacramento Symphony in the mid 1990's and guess what Lenny was there then to!

I keep finding the same people are present every time something gets SCREWED UP IN THE AFM!

They are on the DOLE of the AFM and some locals, time to identify the pattern and Cease doing business with Lawyers and consultants if they are not producing results for the future of the Musicians Union.

Any other place of employment would have fired them if their track record was what it appears to be.

This Lenny guy wrote an article or made a statement a few years back that was in print in AFM Local 12's newsletter "The Central California Upbeat" which some members have called the "Dead Beat" or the "Beat Off"

What Lenny said if in fact he said it regarding a symphony and music teachers was so STUPID and misleading he should have been fired.

I wrote a letter to AFM Local 12 Secretary pointing out that the legal position Lenny took was WRONG and was not in fact the law but something that Lenny might have made up to justify his existence for billable hours.

If what I read about him is true and from what I seen of the mid 1990's Sacramento Symphony DISASTER, I have to ask why is the AFM still paying this guy for anything?

Lenny Lebo..... has not done good for AFM Local 12 symphony members so if this guy is dropping the ball else where in the US for AFM members you guys should look into his past with AFM Local 12.

If your interested let me know and I give your contact information to contact symphony members that were mad as hell after the Sacto Symphony went BUST!

If I am wrong on this post please ignore it and pretend I am sitting here NAKED drinking a Beer.

Please be patient while I try to get this straight:

1) The orchestra (both management and musicians) are under pressure to fulfill their nonprofit mission to public satisfaction.
2) The NLRB informed the Local that they would rule in management's favor.
3) Despite the impact of 1 & 2 above, the Musicians' Negotiating Committee, the Chair of ICSOM, and the "senior performing arts labor attorney in the known universe" are determined their planned strategy of not filing the 8D notice will ultimately pay off and that the musicians should stay the course.
4) The Local VP disagrees and is forecasting further trouble when stating "as the orchestra goes, so goes the Local."
5) After careful consideration of 1, 2 & 3 above, the musicians reject the recommendation of the committee only to heed to the advice of the VP and vote to accept a concession.

THEN

6) The Committee, the labor attorney and the musicians, unhappy with the outcome of the vote, blame local officers for pressuring the musicians to concede to management.
7) Local officers, unhappy at being the target of criticism, file a complaint with the NY Bar Assn. about the conduct of the labor attorney.

Am I close?

Pete Vriesenga

Robert Levine writes:

"A core component to being a non-profit (at least in the arts world) is that the organization will take in less in earned income than it spends in generating that income."

With all due respect - the real core component of being a not for profit is having an educational or charitable mission. Something which is certainly not served by a workstoppage/lockout.

My point was this can't by why orchestras are non-profit. It just can't. There has to be a better why than because they lose money. And there certainly is a better how.

It is true that in order for an NFP to keep its NFP status there must be a balance between earned and unearned income and a demonstrated need for that unearned income. As far as the IRS is concerned, the key is what happens at the end of the year when the books are closed. When there is a surplus - that surplus can not be distributed as dividend, but rather must be either pumped back into the mission or somehow distributed to other non-profits with similar missions (the former almost always being the choice).

There isn't an honest NFP in the country that doesn't seek to balance its books or even generate a surplus every year. Generating too much surplus causes problems on the fundraising side of things, however.

Of course with upper management salaries being what they are (generally) and orchestras being the rather large, expensive, and inefficient machines that they are - there is usually only a small chance of a surplus. Orchestras, by their very nature spend well beyond their means.

I agree that once the stoppage has occured, most of the short term damage is done. But since a count of butts in the seats at some point becomes critical to the grantwriting process - there is additional damage as the days of work stoppage stack up.

Pete Vriesenga wrote:

"Lenny Leibowitz was acting legal counsel AND lead negotiator who deliberately failed to file the 8(d) notice for strategic reasons. From all accounts Lenny's strategy backfired by forcing an unfavorable settlement by the musicians under pressure from the NLRB...So, why are the local officers getting the blame?"

Two reasons: they pressured the musicians into a settlement for reasons not having to do with the good of the musicians, and they then engaged in a vendetta against the orchestra's attorney for no very good reason that I can see.

Someone else wrote:

"Not filing the 8D triggered an illegal strike charge by the employer which triggered a potential expensive court case which triggered the panic button by the local which triggered using the leverage of the local labor council which triggered more pressure to make a deal."

The illegal strike charge might have triggered legal action had the orchestra not gone back to work. But the orchestra could have gone back to work without a deal. And what's the evidence that the legal action would be been "expensive" for the Local? There doesn't appear to be any basis for damages against the Local for this kind of strike.

Not filing the 8D triggered an illegal strike charge by the employer which triggered a potential expensive court case which triggered the panic button by the local which triggered using the leverage of the local labor council which triggered more pressure to make a deal.
The deal sucked so now everyone is blaming everyone else. Can you say three degrees of separation from the 8D stragetgy?

Not filing the 8D did not force the orchestra to go back to work. There were other factors like pressure from the Local union and labor council.
Many in the orchestra feel that they were deserted by their union when the chips were down. The Local Vice President announcing at the ratification meeting "as the orchestra goes, so goes the Local" (translation the orchestra has to go back to work because the Local is losing to much money) only reinforced that feeling. As for the 8d, the reality is that if you get a complaint about the 8D you say Oops and go back to work for 30 days and then go out on strike again. That plays hell with an employer and in our case it would have meant that we would have had thirty days salary and paid medical and threatened to strike again one week before a major New York concert with our new music director. The statement made by the union Vice President speaks to the ills of Local 2-197 much better than any criticism I can make. BTW The Committee and the union knew the 8D had not been filed in early January.

Am I missing something?

Lenny Leibowitz was acting legal counsel AND lead negotiator who deliberately failed to file the 8(d) notice for strategic reasons. From all accounts Lenny's strategy backfired by forcing an unfavorable settlement by the musicians under pressure from the NLRB.

So, why are the local officers getting the blame?

Local officers rarely receive credit when things go well, and quickly become the target when things go wrong. I guess that's why lawyers make the big bucks?

Pete Vriesenga

MTM wrote:

"And non profits should not get special treatment when it come to screwing over their employees."

That wasn't my point. My point was that, because they lose money on everything for which they have to pay their musicians, they have less reason either to get the orchestra back to work immediately or to replace them with strikebreakers.

Mike Allen wrote:

"Is this "precisely" why orchestras are non-profit? If so, help us all...Work stoppages / lockouts also have an adverse affect on fundraising both short and long term - particularly in the corporate sector where companies are looking for public visibility through their partnerships with orchestras."

A core component to being a non-profit (at least in the arts world) is that the organization will take in less in earned income than it spends in generating that income. Hence the need for donations. It's true that work stoppages can have adverse effects on fund-raising, which is one reason that orchestras try to avoid them. But, once they start, much of that adverse impact has already happened, and stretching the strike out for a few weeks is more helpful than harmful to the bottom line. I think that's why orchestra strikes tend not to be short (ie, days).

Someone else wrote:

"so you don't see the strong possibility of being ordered (by a Federal Judge) back to work for a cooling off period as a loss of leverage? Notifying the Feds is the law."

A cooling off period could be a "loss of leverage"; it could also be a face-saving way of ending a strike that's gone on long enough. The musicians didn't have to settle in order to go back to work; they could have gone back to work under the imposed terms and struck again after the cooling-off period was over. They didn't. Personally I think they did the right thing. But I wasn't there, and it wasn't my job on the line.

I don't know whether or not the failure to file the 8(d) notice was a strategic mistake or not. What I do believe is that it was neither malpractice nor some kind of ethical violation, as the three Local officers are now claiming.

Non Profits don't make money?
that is a misconception,

Labor Union are non profits and many make money, churches are non profits and make money, fund raisers are non profits and make money.

This does not give any non profit (including labor unions or symphonies) a get out being an employer card to treat their employees any different that any other for profit business.

In 1993 a church called the Capitol Christian Center had a CBA with AFM Local 12 in Sacramento for the singing Christmas tree concert series. The music director Screwed up and purchase a new lighting system and spent part of the budget for the Labor Ie: musicians for the concert series.

This non profit did a most unchristian thing, they broke the CBA during the life of the CBA with a letter saying the Musicians were no longer needed.

No fault of the musicians, a blunder by mis management!

AFM Local 12 Secretary Benson would not allow a strike line at the church, he would not sue for the lost wages and the breach of contract, due to their NON PROFIT status.

The musicians lost because the EMPLOYER was given a get out being employer card from AFM Local 12 in 1993.

A failure to represent had happen.

I went into the church preparing for a strike line sat through one of the services and looked around and it dawned on me that this Church this non profit was really a corporation, a book store with the bible but also RUSH Limbaugh and Oliver North's books and other political books which we not of a Christian nature.

They had a k to 12 grade school which cost an arm and a leg to pay for, they did a ton of lobbing at the state capitol, they brought over a boat load of Russians and others to the Sacramento region and sponsor them until they became citizens and could VOTE for what they were told to vote for which was anti union politicians.

But still AFM Local 12 surrendered when we had clear legal high ground.

Because they were a non profit.

I do not really care who they bring to America for a better life or what right wing books they pimp as religion that is their right, I do not like that this corporation pretends to be fair and poor, it is misleading.

A few years back a young single parent divorced mother who had her little girl in the Same non profits Christian school, was working as a stripper at a local Sacramento strip club (Sacramento has 10 of them) when one of the church management came in to see the show, he was surprise to see her dancing at the club and tried to get her to dance for him, she did not. For what ever reason.

He Kicked her daughter out of the Christian school she was attending, it was on the news.

And she had a major lawsuit she could have filed against this, but because of their NONPROFIT STATUS she did not feeling it would not be right.

My point in this is they cannot make profits running a symphony they should get somebody else to run the symphony.

And non profits should not get special treatment when it come to screwing over their employees.


"Orchestras are non-profit institutions precisely because they lose money on every concert."

Is this "precisely" why orchestras are non-profit? If so, help us all.

Work stoppages / lockouts also have an adverse affect on fundraising both short and long term - particularly in the corporate sector where companies are looking for public visibility through their partnerships with orchestras.

so you don't see the strong possibility of being ordered (by a Federal Judge) back to work for a cooling off period as a loss of leverage? Notifying the Feds is the law. This is not to blame either side of this clusterfuck. The reason this law came into being is to avoid rushing to strike/lock-out with the opportunity or possibilty of mediation.

The comments to this entry are closed.