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January 06, 2009

Comments

It is folly that anyone would use the alleged COMMITTEE as a source of information about anything. Their semi-literate tabloid polemics have long been discredited in Local 47, as the recent election results indicate. Consisting mainly of a couple of frustrated wannabe composers,its not hard to understand that their motivation is not local, but rather to influence the AFM and to advance the notion that recording musicians need to make less and receive no residual income. They really just want access to union musicians for their projects on the cheap.

I have to disagree.

Regarding Local 47's choice to use a blatantly non-union contractor for major renovations, combined with its open tolerance of the PMG, a directly competing guild to the AFM, clearly Local 47 has no qualms about embracing non-AFM, non-AFL-CIO based entities. I think that's relevant.

Re: the "confidential" meeting, I find it not surprising that the bullied, rather than the bullies, may have spoken about this. After all, they wanted to take over the Western division of the AFM! I find that shocking. And not a word of the COMMITTEE's report on this has been disputed, here or elsewhere. If the COMMITTEE reports are accurate that the RMA is considering targeting orchestral tenure, I would think that some of the symphony guys might find that a bit troubling too. Perhaps that's fodder for a new thread here, "All Ur Jobz R Ourz"

Look, I think the evidence is clear enough that Tom and the IEB are not going to bow to these kinds of threats, and that the recording musicians are not going to back down from their demands either. The carnage and legal expense of a protracted battle is not helping anyone, and is only enriching the lawyers as both sides continue a dangerous entrenchment of their positions and antagonism reigns only weeks before the film negotiations begin.

Perhaps it's time to give negotiations another chance?

Downbeat wrote:

"Regarding the "confidential" meeting in LA, the COMMITTEE published a report on that many weeks ago. Given all that's at stake, we should be hearing reports from all involved, not just the COMMITTEE folks."

What does it tell you that you're only hearing about what happened in a confidential meeting from the COMMITTEE? What it tells me is that one side (and it's not the RMA that the COMMITTEE is supporting in this war) agreed to keep it confidential - and then promptly blabbed their version of it to people it knew would get the word out.

And what does that tell you about the relative good faith of the various parties?

downbeat writes:

"The last RMA "fact" I read about here was Marc Sazer dodging and weaving to avoid questions about the PMG while quoting reference-less statistics like "the number of scoring sessions are increasing"."

He has evidently missed the stats showing that the overwhelming amount of AFM film work dues comes from LA. He further obfuscates with the COMMITTEE stuff about the PMG (yet to file or sponsor any recording work) and 47's renovation - all old diatribe having nothing to do with the current AFM/RMA "war."

He continues:

"What matters is marketshare in terms of knowing whether AFM sessions represent a healthy portion of the overall market."

If films that are shown here are made in the UK, France, Italy, Rumania, Hungary, Russia, Argentina, etc. by foreign producers, Just what determines a " healthy portion" of the AFM's scoring marketshare?

In light of the current subpoenas, I can't help wondering whether downbeat's queries are nothing more than a disguised fishing expedition.

Hi Tony -

OK, good. Can we start by specifying what, exactly, you are referring to when you say I haven't responded to any "RMA Facts" on this blog? Give me an "RMA Fact" and I'll be happy to respond! Despite all the nastiness aimed in my direction, I'm here to learn more about things. But let's make sure it's a FACT, not an OPINION. We all have opinions, and that's fine, but facts are quite another thing. The last RMA "fact" I read about here was Marc Sazer dodging and weaving to avoid questions about the PMG while quoting reference-less statistics like "the number of scoring sessions are increasing". I pointed out to him that without knowing the big picture, that fact is all but meaningless. What matters is marketshare in terms of knowing whether AFM sessions represent a healthy portion of the overall market.

Regarding the "confidential" meeting in LA, the COMMITTEE published a report on that many weeks ago. Given all that's at stake, we should be hearing reports from all involved, not just the COMMITTEE folks.

Regarding the new Local 47 President, perhaps he can explain why he hired and oversaw the work of a NON-UNION CONSTRUCTION FIRM to renovate the Local 47 studio space? Great way to start a term as Local 47 President - a kick in the teeth to every union member. I'd love to hear the explanation for that stunt.

Awaiting your facts, Tony, and happy to respond to same.

TESTY, AREN’T YOU, DOWNBEAT!?

- “in an attempt to better understand things” - “reasonable questions” - ”a tirade of attacks” - “communicate!” - ???? -

YOU HAVEN’T ATTEMPTED TO UNDERSTAND ONE THING YET.

The meeting in LA was supposed to be confidential. It was set up as an attempt to mend fences between the RMA and the Federation. Judging from the lack of public reports from anyone except for Downbeat I'm assuming that the meeting was a bust. I'm sure Downbeat can fill us in on the facts.
Oh that's right , he already has.
In the meantime musicians in Nashville have voted . The Legendary Harold Bradley was defeated in an unprecedented landslide vote because he no longer represented the guys that were doing the work. Billy Lineman was defeated by a virtual unknown in the political arena , for the same reason. Both Harold and Billy thought it was more important to defend Lee's "scorched earth " policies instead of sticking up for the guys that are footing a good portion of the Federation finances. For years Tom , with Harold Bradley's blessing, have tried painting this mess as an LA issue. The Nashville election has proven otherwise.
What amazes me is that Harold and Billy have chosen to remain on the IEB, when clearly, they no longer represent Nashville Musicians.
In the meantime LA has new Leadership which by all appearance's, is very "working musician" friendly. I would expect the relationship between Nashville and LA to become very close over the next three years.
It's not to late for Lee to make a turnaround but I won't hold my breath. At some point working musicians will become very tired of being ignored when it comes to Federation policy concerning their livelihoods.

Hey downbeat - I’ll answer your question about the “current mess”.

Downbeat writes: “the COMMITTEE website and emails have been my top sources of information on AFM stuff”.

Let’s put this in perspective here. You’re an anonymous poster quoting a discredited anonymous poster and you’re both commenting on a meeting that neither one of you attended. That’s rather fascinating. No one from the COMMITTEE gets any of their info from anyone but Tom Lee.

Can you show anything you refer to from a two-sided perspective? Do you know both sides of this story? Do you have a direct unbiased source that you refer to, or (just like Lee) is all your info derived from “I heard about”, “all I’ve seen so far”, “on the face of it” and all your other quotes?

Here’s what’s really curious; You haven’t responded to one fact from any RMA info written on this blog. So far, you ignore whatever doesn’t suit your bias, and you move on to a diversion. You’ve clearly shown that you’re quite privy to all the goings on within the AFM/RMA war. You know everything, then suddenly you play dumb, then you know everything again! That’s what Tom Lee has done for 8 years, and hence the “current mess”.

Hey Dizzy - all I did was ask a question about how past negotiations failed and what led to the current mess in an attempt to better understand things. If reasonable questions are all it takes to set off a tirade of attacks (as so vividly evidenced in this thread), perhaps that in itself answers my question. It's hard to communicate with people who spend all of their time on the attack.

HE'S BACK. DOWNBEAT JUST HAS TO HAVE THE LAST WORD ON EVERYTHING. It's becoming real clear that his beef is with a segment of the AFM that's successful. Unlike him. He's in love with the 'COMMITTEE'. He never comes up with any evidence to back up his claims, but he does dodge, weave, take off on other tangents, or restate past misstatements. There's a clinical term for this.

802fiddler & Tony - regarding the de-conferencing issue, yes I heard about that through this blog as well, however that came well after the recording musicians filed their lawsuit and I had always assumed that the continuing escalation in legal threats and actions by the recording musicians had prompted the whole issue of de-conferencing. What I'm really interested in is what led up to all of this - obviously the AFM and the recording musicians are battling now and what's done is done. But what precipitated all of this? Why couldn't honest, good faith negotiation have prevented the mess we have now? I would really like to know more about what both sides did before the "war" started in terms of trying to come to an agreement.

Frankly, this blog and the COMMITTEE website and emails have been my top sources of information on AFM stuff - they represent vastly different points of view, but both are full of interesting info that helps me better understand what's going on.

Look, 802fiddler says Lee won't negotiate. That's news to me - the last thing I read on that subject was the "summit" meeting in LA a couple of months back in the COMMITTEE mailing where they said that Lee was given an ultimatum by the recording musicians: give the RMA control over the AFM West Coast office and all Lee's "problems", apparently referring to the lawsuit, Fareplay, etc will "go away". That's not negotiation, that's an ultimatum at gunpoint. Beyond that, I haven't heard anything about any negotiations, etc. until I read about the subpoena here.

Now if Lee refused to negotiate, frankly, that could affect my thinking about this whole situation since all I've seen so far is arrogant moves by the recording musicians - the summit ultimatum, the lawsuit, PMG, Fareplay legal warchest to battle the AFM, etc. You must admit - on the face of it - all these appear to be incredibly arrogant steps not at all compatible with negotiations. If there's another side to all of this that justifies these actions, I'm all ears, honestly.

Tony Cooke has replied to downbeat, stating most of what I would have said. I'd like to add that Lee's recent threat to de-conference the RMA that reverberated among the other player conferences does not exactly show a willingness to negotiate, but more of a "my way or the highway" approach.

How's that for a specific instance, downbeat? Gee, what short memories some of us have.

Downbeat . you sound like you are on a fishing expedition . How obvious can you be ?

What?

You’re "not 'privy' to dealings between Tom and the recording musicians?”

Your collective posts from the past several weeks not only reveal that you are certainly privy to more than most AFM Members everything Tom Lee. In fact, your posts read look like you might be sitting right next to him!

You’re either a) so arrogant as to believe that you can fool everyone with your change of tone, or b) a very natural liar, or c) schizophrenic.

Whichever it is, so far I’m not buying this change of direction from downbeat. I doubt others are either.

OK, 802fiddler, I'm open to new information. I'm not privy to the dealings between Tom Lee and the recording musicians - can you tell me more about how Lee cannot be negotiated with - specific instances and data, please? I'm interested.

downbeat writes:

"I have to believe that negotiations would be a far preferable route than the scorched-earth policies that have brought us to this point with the lawsuit, PMG, Fareplay, etc."

His post suggests that Tom Lee can be negotiated with. Moreover, this mantra is repeated over and over again in his other posts with the hope that it will be believed. I wish that he would change the record or sing another tune. Lee has proved to be a stonewaller, not a negotiator. The lawsuit, PMG, Fareplay, etc. are a RESULT of Lee's actions, not the cause.

What I always found curious about the federal lawsuit that the recording musicians filed here is that the cost of the attorneys seems likely to be much, much higher than whatever small amounts that these three musicians could recoup from the AFM portion of scale wages, which is what is at issue in the lawsuit. Why would these guys lose massive amounts of money to recoup nickels and dimes? That is, unless someone else is paying the bills for the attorneys... Lawsuits are a nasty game fought in the take-no-prisoners world of federal courts and high priced attorneys. I have to believe that negotiations would be a far preferable route than the scorched-earth policies that have brought us to this point with the lawsuit, PMG, Fareplay, etc.

I suppose we'll now have to converse (and blog) in lead-lined rooms.....

It makes one wonder if next they will subpoena all private conversations, pillow talk, and bathroom colloquy. If this is a preview of what is to come, we're going to have to stock up on the Charmin.......

Bruce Schultz wrote:

"Organizations routinely have to disclose internal correspondence concerning the issues in the case. The fact that disclosure of internal discussions has a chilling effect doesn't shield them from disclosure. Is it chilling? Yes. Is this an unfortunate brand of legal hardball being played by the AFM? Yes. Is it legal? Yes."

I'm glad that Bruce weighed in; I was hoping that someone with real knowledge of the law would do so. My point was not, however, that what the AFM was doing was illegal. I can wish it was, although no doubt I'd need a lot more understanding of the rationale for the subpoena power to make that case.

It may be that the "information sought might lead to relevant evidence." That sounds like a low bar to hurdle. But I still don't understand how whatever the RMA might have done or thought is relevant to the question at the heart of the lawsuit, which is whether or not the AFM had the right to impose work dues on promulgated agreements. It is, however, painfully obvious how useful the RMA's internal communications could be in the current administration's political struggle with its critics.

There are things that a union can do that it shouldn't do. This was one. It is all too reminiscent of the Reader's Digest article from more than 50 years ago titled "The union that fights its workers." Now it's also the union that wants their emails too. It seems like an awfully crooked path to solidarity.

Robert, I have a couple of comments. I agree with you that the AFM should not, as a matter of policy, be nosing around in the internal deliberations of its player conferences. But there is no legal protection against forced disclosure of those deliberations except in specific situations. Information protected from disclosure include attorney-client communications, attorney work product, trade secrets, etc. Even then, the court may require in camera production of the information to examine whether it is covered by the claim of privilege.

Organizations routinely have to disclose internal correspondence concerning the issues in the case. The fact that disclosure of internal discussions has a chilling effect doesn't shield them from disclosure. Is it chilling? Yes. Is this an unfortunate brand of legal hardball being played by the AFM? Yes. Is it legal? Yes.

Also, during discovery it is enough that the information sought might lead to relevant evidence. The information itself doesn't need to be relevant. Subpoenas to give evidence at trial is another matter.

Claims of privilege can be raised in a motion to quash the subpoena. I am unaware of any legal support for a claim of privilege unless the communications in question were between RMA officers and their legal counsel.

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