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May 14, 2009

Comments

Keys says----
Well, 802, I see you've joined the club that is accusing a respected composer (Lennie Moore) of lying. Not incorrect, not mistaken, "lying". Big difference. Being incorrect or mistaken can happen without intention. Lying absolutely has intention.

This is ridiculous. This article was written three years ago. Who knows what the true context was.
I do know that the IM is nothing more than a political pulpit for the Federation. They do not allow opposing viewpoints to their political agenda.
All due respect for Mr Moore, but after visiting his website , I see that he has been successful and worked on some pretty cool projects but even Lennie doesn't seem to blow his horn as to being an"award winning" whatever.
Personally I think it's total bullshit that Donkeys is dragging Lennie Moore into this and I too would appreciate his comments on the subject.
I'm just wondering.
Since i've won a good number of awards over the past thirty years and had songs cut by major artists , can I have a column in the IM to tell the membership our side of the story ?
Is guess a better question .... Is hell going to freeze over anytime soon ?

From 88:

"Being incorrect or mistaken can happen without intention. Lying absolutely has intention."

How true! Certain Lee allies at 802 are in the habit of making accusations and other unprovable statements. When called out, either they claim that they were "mistaken" or they don't even bother to respond. If you think there's no pattern of intent here, I'll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge for 20 bucks.

802 writes, "In fact, the report was an out and out lie."

Well, 802, I see you've joined the club that is accusing a respected composer (Lennie Moore) of lying. Not incorrect, not mistaken, "lying". Big difference. Being incorrect or mistaken can happen without intention. Lying absolutely has intention.

I'll ask you the same thing I asked Robert - did you even bother to contact Lennie and see whether he stands behind his statement? I doubt it. The witch hunt continues...

From 88:

"And let's not forget respected composer Lennie Moore's statement in the International Musician:

"I have had exploratory discussions with PMG leaders Marc Sazer and Phil Ayling" "

And let's not forget - as has already been stated elsewhere by Robert Levine - that the IM is hardly an objective nor even reliable authority in this matter. In fact, the report was an out and out lie.

It's pretty strange to answer someone who sounds like Tom in a post called someone who sounds like Tom. He/she suggests that the AFM needs help crippling itself.

The greatest triumph the International Musician and Tom Lee keep trumpeting is in videogames; an abject failure! Wages have plummeted while industry profits soared. Employment in 2008 was half what it was in 2007. Musicians in both Los Angeles and San Francisco are unhappy and disappointed. I understand that many of the best players in the San Francisco Symphony have decided to refuse future videogame employment because it is such a mess.

The AFM needs help crippling itself?

802, desperately trying to minimize the threat of the PMG, writes, "In the almost three years since the advent of the PMG website, there has yet to be one single recording session under its aegis."

Well 802, you're technically correct, but it obviously wouldn't be practical for them to duplicate the functions of the AFM until they've either decertified the AFM or crippled the AFM sufficiently to make it not a viable alternative. They've kept that website active for a reason - I assume at a minimum, as a threat against the AFM and a reminder that the recording musicians have already put together their own competing organization that they can "activate" if the the AFM does not bow to their demands. Talk about negotiating at gunpoint!

Your statement is sort of like seeing shark fins circling but insisting there's no threat of injury because no one's lost a leg yet - waiting until irreparable damage is done to address obvious problems is usually not the best way to do things.

My point here is that the continued presence of the PMG represents the INTENTIONS of what certain group(s) of recording musicians are considering - namely, they've created their own guild to do what the AFM does now. And let's not forget respected composer Lennie Moore's statement in the International Musician:

"I have had exploratory discussions with PMG leaders Marc Sazer and Phil Ayling"

Clearly whatever actions the PMG and its leaders intend to undertake are aimed for the future. What they're planning is anyone's guess, and they're certainly not telling, leaving us to evaluate the PMG and its intentions using what little evidence exists about this secretive organization. As I said, the best evidence we have is right on the PMG website where its mission - directly conflicting with the AFM's authority and responsibility in the industry - is clearly detailed.

From 88:

"This website says it all about the intentions of those involved in the PMG. In their own words."

In the almost three years since the advent of the PMG website, there has yet to be one single recording session under its aegis. But 88 is once again stuck on one of his "golden oldies" hooks. How boring!

Bruce writes, "Consider me a stupid hick from Nashville but I searched the web and could not find this website."

You don't need to "search the web", the website was right in my post:

http://www.professionalmusiciansguild.org

According to their website, they want to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements... I wonder which ones those would be? Clearly, ones currently negotiated and enforced by the AFM.

This website says it all about the intentions of those involved in the PMG. In their own words.

I'm starting to think it might be a good idea if the RMA left the AFM. They could go join the Guild and do their own thing. I quit two locals because of the RMA and maybe it would be a good time to turn it around. I'll stay and they can leave. We might all be better off.

By Jove, I think he's got it!

Interesting. So is it possible that what is going on represents a sort of Balkanization of the AFM?

Rick Blanc wrote:

"Robert, are the musicians in Milwaukee going to go down to the union hall one morning and see a sign that says "Under New Management -- The Milwaukee Chapter of the PMG -- Robert Levine Grand PMG Poohbah." Is the AFM so awful? Is the bitterness toward Lee so all-consuming? Should we destroy the AFM?

I don't have the energy or patience to sort through key's voluminous and repetitive writings, but I do recall their suggesting that the departure of the LA recording musicians would not be a bad thing for the AFM.

But if Rick is right, and the PMG represents the potential destruction of the AFM, then perhaps the leadership of the AFM should be trying harder to heal the breach, rather than opening it further with antics such as releasing a "new" videogame agreement, with great fanfare, in the middle of film negotiations. Given that it wasn't really a new agreement anyway, and given that the folks who work under the film agreement are terrified that the videogame agreement will fatally undermine the film negotiations, that seemed more like the AFM leadership was determined to give the recording musicians the longest and stiffest middle finger they could muster.

There are many reasons that Local 8 is not going to leave the AFM, the most important of which is that its members don't want to. The reason? Musicians working under CBAs in Local 8 get to participate in the negotiation of those CBAs, get to choose the lead negotiator, and elect the officers who are legally responsible for those negotiations.

Prior to Tom Lee's election as president, the RMA, which is the player conference responsible under AFM bylaws and policy with representing recording musicians, had similar access to the negotiating process as do the bargaining units in Local 8. Now they don't.

If Local was run - or ever had been run - by officers as determined as are Tom and the IEB to shut out those working under CBAs from the negotiations for those CBAs, I guarantee you my orchestra would have left the AFM a long time ago.

The Downbeat/Keys/ PR Firm, whatever it is, was up early working on the propaganda machine. They did a good job. For the average Joe, that doesn't work in the business , one would think that the big bad PMG was alive and well in LA , stealing work from good , hard working , AFM members. So I decided to see for myself......
DownKeys says "
* The PMG website is active, and reads like a manifesto for a direct competitor to the AFM. Let's have a look at what they're promising people as they market their new Guild:
Consider me a stupid hick from Nashville but I searched the web and could not find this website. Perhaps it's a special website but if in fact it does not exist the proves once again that the integrity of the DownKeys spin machine needs to be questioned.
As I remember the PMG came into existence sometime before the last convention after the first Lee/Schaffner/ Folio video game agreement.All the PMG succeeded in doing was create a large opportunity for AFM fear mongering. I don't think they ever wrote a contract and as far as I know, have not been heard of since before the last convention. Of course I have friends that feel like the WMD's are still in Iraq somewhere.
Most Recording musicians I know would rather work within a functional AFM.
It's important to note that while performing my Google search, I did see a number of Musicians Guilds listed in Canada.It was interesting to note that Montreal had an especially large guild, boasting a membership of over three thousand. I wonder how they're doing up there? Perhaps DownKeys could tell us something about the six figure " emergency bailout" that the Federation gave them. Better yet how bout shedding some light on the re-payment schedule.

In other words, is the AFM really so awful, is Tom Lee really so awful that we should allow the AFM to be destroyed from within? Are today's concerns so compelling that destruction is the only answer? And this is destruction spearheaded by "special interests" within recording -- only one area of the music business -- led by people whose quest for control and power seemingly has no bounds?

Is that really what we want here?

Robert, are the musicians in Milwaukee going to go down to the union hall one morning and see a sign that says "Under New Management -- The Milwaukee Chapter of the PMG -- Robert Levine Grand PMG Poohbah."

Is the AFM so awful? Is the bitterness toward Lee so all-consuming? Should we destroy the AFM?

Thanks keys88. I'm a little bit mystified as to why this is not getting more attention on this website. Robert talked about years of dedicated union activism and others have talked about their commitments to the AFM. I understand they think there are problems with the AFM and they sympathize with RMA concerns. But these threats of litigation with top RMA people organizing an alternative union seems to be pretty serious stuff -- and is getting very little attention on this blog. What's up? I don't get it.

Are these dedicated AFM unionists prepared to watch the whole organization crash and burn?

Rick writes, regarding the Professional Musicians Guild, "Now we know it still exists, so that is not a matter of speculation, and I would like to get more info about it including who is involved."

Well, a couple of things:

* An article in the International Musician quoted top videogame composer Lennie Moore saying "I have had exploratory discussions with PMG leaders Marc Sazer and Phil Ayling, as well as separate discussions with the AFM, about creating work for musicians on video game scores." Lennie works with everyone, and has no ax to grind.

* Andy Malloy and Marc Sazer have been brought up on charges before the IEB in regards to the PMG. Haven't heard about the outcome of that - Marc, any news?

* The PMG website is active, and reads like a manifesto for a direct competitor to the AFM. Let's have a look at what they're promising people as they market their new Guild:

The PMG is committed to the democratic representation of professional musicians through trade unionism. Through the collective voice of our professional members we are committed to:

1. Negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements that establish equitable levels of compensation, benefits, and working conditions for professional musicians.

2. Collect compensation for any and all uses of our recorded performances and protect against the unauthorized use of any such performances.

3. Preserve and expand our work opportunities. We are also committed to the organization of unaffiliated professional musicians and to the vigilant and ongoing protection of our labor markets, as well as the ongoing development of new markets and the new technologies within those markets.

We believe that these goals are best achieved through th edirect election of Guild officers and representatives by their professional peers, and that these officers and representatives are accountable directly to those same peers.

We are committed to good faith and fair dealing.

We support equal opportunity for all.

Well, that's a mouthful. Clearly this is a professional guild whose mission is in DIRECT competition with the American Federation of Musicians. They clearly want to function as a union, as they plan to "negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements".

We can only wonder why the organizers of this shadowy organization are afraid to speak publicly about the goals and plans for this organization. We can only wonder what the plans might be, especially in light of the multiple federal lawsuits that the same crowd has launched against the AFM. How many members do they have? What kind of funding have they already achieved? What's their game plan? Do they plan to attempt to decertify the AFM - if so, in what areas? Lots of questions, no answers from these people.

It's a big question mark, but from the mission as clearly stated in black and white at http://www.professionalmusiciansguild.org this new guild is a direct competitive threat to the AFM. That fact alone speaks volumes.

You are quite right, I wouldn't call myself a union activist either. I'm something of an activist in general -- at least in terms of participating in the debates -- but only talk about union stuff because I've spent a lifetime in the business. I'm pro-union on balance but have nowhere near the kind of commitment to unionism that you have.

If someone doesn't feel my opinions are worth consideration that's fine.

I appreciate your candid answer about the Guild. I don't know if it is my imagination but the Hollywood crowd seems awfully quiet about the Guild. Now we know it still exists, so that is not a matter of speculation, and I would like to get more info about it including who is involved. I think it is relevant to the discussion, particularly given the circumstances of today: litigation and the RMA/AFM rift, the debate over work leaving LA and the consequent unemployment, the fact that LA is really the nerve center of the RMA, and the future of the AFM generally which will effect a lot of people.

It is fundamentally a dumb, snide question, whether I'm engaged in "our" business. Does a union card prove one is a 'real' musician as opposed to a pretend musician without a card? I have been questioned about my membership -- presumably because Pomeroy for one thinks it's important. I've been questioned as to whether I'm a 'real' musician or a 'real recording' musician, contrived categories 'at best' as Antony might say. And my eligibility to discuss issues on a union blog have been questioned.

I should have used a phrase different than “our business,” because the business I meant was the union business, not the music business. Obviously a union card, or lack of one, proves nothing about one’s musical ability.

But I think whether or not you’re a member of the AFM does matter, at least in terms of evaluating what you say about internal union matters. I’m entitled, as a matter of basic free speech rights, to say whatever I think about how the Catholic Church governs itself, and the decisions it makes. But, as a non-Catholic, I don’t expect to be taken very seriously by those who have spent their lives dealing with those issues – and have the scars to prove it.

By my definition, you’re not a union activist. You don’t spend hours of unpaid time dealing with matters of union governance. You leave when you don’t get the results you like. That’s your right. It’s our right to evaluate what you say with that in mind.

If I'd left the AFM after something happened I didn't like, I would have left about 35 years ago. I chose to try to make things better instead. Very, very occasionally I succeed. Generally I don't.

That's what being a union activist is about.

If the RMA is contemplating a jump to the Guild because the AFM isn't working for it how does that differ from what I did as an individual?

Personally I view quitting a union because you don’t like who’s running it as different from leaving a union to join another one, or to start a new one. But the RMA “contemplating a jump to the Guild” is mere speculation, in my view. What I see is an RMA fighting like hell to stay within the AFM in the face of officers who seem to have a personal grudge against them and want them to make a lot less money.

Why don't we hear more about this Guild question from people one would think would be interested, based on what's been said in the past, like Dave Pomeroy and Robert Levine.

I know nothing about the Guild other than what I read in the papers. I do know something about the AFM’s response to the existence of the Guild, though. That responses seems profoundly counter-productive to me. Obviously the Guild represents a serious rift within the AFM. The right response would have been to try to heal that rift. The AFM chose instead to demonize an entire community of disaffected musicians; a community without which it would have gone broke a long time ago, by the way.

Robert writes: "Unions are not countries... to which one pledges undying fealty, regardless of its actions. The question about your status as an AFM (sic) has to do with your engagement with our business."

It is fundamentally a dumb, snide question, whether I'm engaged in "our" business. Does a union card prove one is a 'real' musician as opposed to a pretend musician without a card? I have been questioned about my membership -- presumably because Pomeroy for one thinks it's important. I've been questioned as to whether I'm a 'real' musician or a 'real recording' musician, contrived categories 'at best' as Antony might say. And my eligibility to discuss issues on a union blog have been questioned.

Meanwhile Levine (see above) says unions are not countries... to which one pledges undying fealty, regardless of its actions. Regardless of its actions.

I quit Local 47 for exactly that reason: Local 47 under RMA control didn't work for me, so we can put the question of my AFM loyalty to rest. I've asked about the Guild in Hollywood and heard a lot of silence so far. If the RMA is contemplating a jump to the Guild because the AFM isn't working for it how does that differ from what I did as an individual? Are they then no longer 'real' musicians without AFM cards? Is there a double standard here?

Why don't we hear more about this Guild question from people one would think would be interested, based on what's been said in the past, like Dave Pomeroy and Robert Levine.

It seems to me we may have some RMA hypocrisy and subterfuge here. Is not the Guild a violation of Bylaws? Are you RMA partisans and cheerleaders not concerned about the Guild, and if not why not?

Sazar writes: "Come on, can't we play fair here?"

I don't think you are interested in fairness, I think you are interested in power.

Also interesting questions to be sure. So what does anyone know about the Guild?

Who knows something about the Guild?

Silly me. I thought we were talking about AFM agreements, their relative success or failure, and what should be done about it.

Who knows something about why wages under the AFM videogame agreement dropped like a stone (from already unimpressive numbers in previous years) last year?

Moving right along... who knows something about the Guild?

Obviously support for a Guild might call into question AFM loyalty. So who's loyalty aside from mine should be in question?

The question is not "loyalty." Unions are not countries, or religions, to which one pledges undying fealty, regardless of its actions. The question about your status as an AFM has to do with your engagement with our business; not whose side you're on.

"Witch hunts" are generally about loyalty. That's why I don't like them, especially in the context of union politics.

Who knows something about the Guild?

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