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May 31, 2010

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The problem with our union is that a majority of our members would see no problem with inviting the NYC Ratifiers to participate in the negotiations on the union side. Furthermore, I would bet that if polled, a majority of our members would not agree with the following statement: "collective bargaining agreements benefit musicians." From the perspective of a great many of our members, collective bargaining agreements do not benefit them but are seen as agreements that benefit elite members and exclude them from working gigs.

Remember, this is a union in which the idea of prohibiting contractor/employers from being union officers or executive board members is controversial. It may be a stretch, but I would guess that a huge segment of our membership aspires to be contractors/employers/members rather than leaders/officers/members.

Contractor/members are highly valued in our union because they hire our members and file the paperwork to pay work dues and pension thus perpetuating the role of the union. There is a feeling that if the union antagonizes these members, they will stop filing the paper work, paying the dues and just go ahead and hire the same musicians without paying the work dues.

My point is that many of the problems discussed on this board are not caused just by certain individuals but are rather systemic problems within our union. We are members of a union in which a majority of its members do not work. A union in which of those that do work only a few support themselves as working musicians. A union in which of those that do support themselves as musicians, only a few work under collective bargaining agreements. This is a problem if you believe that the primary role of union is to organize and negotiate collective bargaining agreements.

I am a member of an ICSOM orchestra and support the goals of ICSOM and the labor movement at large. Unfortunately, I do not believe that a majority of our members or a majority of our local officers would agree with many of the goals of ICSOM and the labor movement. Until there is agreement on the goals of our union we will continue to struggle with these problems.

Tom Lee and friends work very hard at attacking musicians who speak out or question anything about their actions at the AF of M. Perhaps they could simply explain the philosophy that advocates inviting employers to our strategy meetings before a negotiation and how such a thing can benefit working musicians. At the Super Bowl, players from one team are not invited into the huddle of the opposition. And let’s face it, even president Bush would know better than to let the enemy to sit in on strategy meetings with General Petraeus and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

What exactly IS the Tom Lee philosophy? Does it benefit anyone other than Tom?

How far will Tom Lee go in his quest for vengeance on the RMA? Consulting jingle producers privately for their knowledge of the business prior to the caucus is one thing. Inviting them to negotiating caucuses where they face their employees is quite another. This comes close to contravening US labor law, if not actually crossing the line. Distributing the "NY Recording Ratifiers" letter to Convention delegates is probably a further example of labor law contravention. Years ago, the DOL overturned an AFM election on the grounds of using union apparatus to electioneer.

Tom'e actions regarding national media contracts in the last few years have been outrageous. He needs to be gone!

Once again - simply amazing. But there is a remedy to the madness......

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