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May 25, 2009

Comments

"It's a basic conflict of interest that virtually no other unions permit."

So why is it permitted?

Aside from that I'm not sure how this ties together with my original answer to Greg's question but maybe you can connect the two?

That answers Greg's question.

Hardly. There is a distinction between non-musicians being members and employers being officers. There are (and always have been) way too many members who make much, or all, of their income as contractors serving as local officers. It's a basic conflict of interest that virtually no other unions permit.

That answers Greg's question.

The ability to play a musical instrument is not required to join the AFM. If you are willing to self-identify yourself as someone who can DANCE for example, you may join the AFM.

If you claim the ability to SING, or can perform SUPPORT CREW service (whatever that is) you are eligble for membership. Several officers of Local 802 have never played music professionally and have advanced from staff into elective positions. Article 9 Section 1(a)of the AFM bylaws say in part:

ARTICLE 9—
MEMBERSHIP; ELIGIBILITY, APPLICATION, FEES&DUES
Joining
SECTION 1(a). All performers on musical instruments of any kind and vocalists,dancers,and support crew or other individuals who render musical services of any kind shall be eligible for membership, subject to AFM laws and jurisdiction.

"I was under the impression that to be a member if the AFM one had to be a musician. Many musicians are also employers I guess. If the story I heard was correct it was the musicians of 47 who persuaded 47's leadership to give Sandy a card even though she wasn't a musician. Or do I have that wrong? Aside from that I don't know enough about the complaint to address it."

Local 47 is hardly the only local that's admitted non-musicians. Local 8 was essentially forced to admit a non-musician (a staff person who wanted to run for office) after various legal actions were filed against it.

I don't think Dave likes me. Too bad.

Rick, the AFM Bylaws define who can be a member. Why don't you try reading them before pontificating? They are readily available to any AFM member at afm.org... oh, right. You're not a member. Never mind. Please move on to some other organization you don't belong to and tell THEM what to do. Rarely have I seen so many words say so little.

"...why our union allows or has allowed, employers to be members. Allows or has allowed employers to be union officers and allows or has allowed employers to be executive board members."

I was under the impression that to be a member if the AFM one had to be a musician. Many musicians are also employers I guess. If the story I heard was correct it was the musicians of 47 who persuaded 47's leadership to give Sandy a card even though she wasn't a musician. Or do I have that wrong? Aside from that I don't know enough about the complaint to address it.

Rick, Your response is similar to the responses I have heard previously when AFM members have questioned why our union allows or has allowed, employers to be members. Allows or has allowed employers to be union officers and allows or has allowed employers to be executive board members.

"Please explain how the music industry is different from other industries."

Music qua industry is only one manifestation in a cosmology of musical activity. To say it is the same as any other industry is to needlessly, artificially and arbitrarily isolate a component part and attempt to limit the meaning of the activity. Music as an activity has a unique character. A musician's union should and will necessarily reflect the multi-dimensional character of the activity. Just my opinion.

"...the music business, or industry, is different than other businesses and industries."

Please explain how the music industry is different from other industries.

Robert wrote: "That’s why I don’t buy that the conflict between Tom and the recording musicians is about anything other than union democracy."

Ok, but that still leads to a rather nebulous view of things. Democracy, like other words in the political vocabulary, is a word describing a way in which power is distributed in decision-making. Democracy as a word is like 'brass' or 'bronze;' words that describe any number of similar alloys. So of course the problem is about democracy; it is about power, distribution of power, power to make decisions, codified power, constitutional (Bylaw) power etc. Every institution in every real time decision-making environment is embroiled in exactly these kinds of issues. And the existence of Bylaws, or a Bill of Rights, doesn't end the arguing, obviously, nor does it end the "evolutionary" forces at work. Going back to the past rarely has much utility since decision-making is always contextual.

I think it is also problematic to compare the way the AFM functions to the ways other unions function simply because the music business, or industry, is different than other businesses and industries. Also it is worth noting that to follow the model presented by some other unions does not necessarily mean following a successful model, particularly in the private sector today. Private sector union membership is significantly down. The idea of AFM retrenchment resulting in a smaller union of full-time players is one option among several in the marketplace of ideas. To get the AFM restructured to that model would take considerable doing. And obviously the idea may not appeal to those in authority. That's politics.

We continue to live and work in a political environment. Today Democrats control the Executive and Legislative branches of our Federal Government. That may or may not be my preference. Likewise elected offices in the AFM are held by those that hold the offices -- which may or may not be your preference. Litigation may or may not accomplish anything, even if repeatedly used. And litigation has consequences both financial and otherwise. To say it is just about union democracy -- which is in a way axiomatic -- probably doesn't accomplish much except to express a certain idealistic disillusionment.

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