Perspectives on the AFM Convention
An AFM Convention typically packs a great deal of business and politics into a whirlwind three-day session. Committees made up of local delegates appointed by the AFM president listen to many hours of testimony given by proponents and opponents of the many resolutions and recommendations submitted prior to the Convention. The committees include: Measures and Benefits, Law, Finance, Joint Law and Finance, Good and Welfare, and Organization and Legislation. These committees often arrive before the Convention begins to pore over and discuss financial packages, bylaw amendments, and other proposals, as well as additional matters affecting the Federation. After hearing testimony and discussing the merits of a proposal, a committee has the option to give a favorable or unfavorable recommendation, or to refer the proposal to another committee or to the IEB. A committee’s recommendation is significant because it often carries great weight with the delegates on the Convention floor. There are times when delegates will vote against a committee’s recommendation, but those instances are few and far between.
Regarding the election of AFM leadership, it is interesting to note that candidates do not have an opportunity for campaign speeches or debate in a public forum. It was strange indeed to go the entire Convention without once hearing from one of the two candidates for AFM President (even though he was seated at the head table near the podium). IEB members were elected who never spoke on the floor prior to the elections. It is easy to take for granted a key feature of ICSOM Conferences that offers delegates the opportunity to hear candidates’ ideas and strategies to strengthen ICSOM.
As you have read by now, our Call to Action campaign was tremendously effective. With the support of our orchestras, ICSOM was effective in warding off increased work dues for symphonic players. An added benefit was that ICSOM’s collective voice was heard firmly. Several proposals that made good sense for symphonic players as well as the AFM were adopted, and others that may have undermined our collective abilities were defeated. A personal highlight was to observe Chairperson Ridge as he spoke eloquently of unity on the Convention floor and in committee meetings. An equally poignant highlight was the effective camaraderie of present and former Governing Board members and other Player Conference officers as we interacted with the various committees and on the floor to further not only ICSOM’s interests but those of the whole AFM.
An unsettling aspect of the 2007 AFM Convention was the hostility clearly aimed at members of RMA. That there is tension between the AFM’s and RMA’s leadership is not recent news. However, it became painfully apparent during this Convention that this rift, if not corrected soon, may well spell the end the AFM as we now know it. Appeals for unity and healing were made on the Convention floor by delegates, IEB members, and our own ICSOM chairperson. It is sincerely hoped that all leaderships will roll up their sleeves and rededicate themselves to healing the rifts and to building a stronger, more relevant AFM. Our collective future depends on it.
The hostility directed towards specific working musicians of the AFM that permeated this Convention was that much more remarkable given the relative ease with which delegates made adjustments to allow specific delegates to be seated. Legal considerations aside for the moment, it was commendable for there to be “unity” from the floor on the issue of seating these delegates. One can only wonder why this same compassion and dedication could not be applied to all AFM members, including the RMA and other working musicians.
When in its infancy, ICSOM endured and overcame obstacles with the Federation. We did so by creating change from within. Previous Governing Boards have stressed the need for ICSOM musicians to become more involved with their own locals and to become AFM delegates. I can count at least six recent past and present Governing Board members who are AFM delegates and integrally involved with their locals. As Chairperson Ridge states in his column, more ICSOM musicians must become AFM delegates in order to create the changes needed to strengthen the AFM. Are we up to this task? Are we ready? With the 2007 ICSOM Conference just a few days away, the Governing Board eagerly looks forward to meeting with the delegates to discuss how to strengthen ICSOM and the AFM.
In closing I would like to recognize Member-at-Large Stephen Lester as he leaves the Governing Board. Steve has provided invaluable advice and assistance during his tenure on the Governing Board and the ICSOM Media Committee. It has been a great personal pleasure to get to know and work with such a committed, passionate, and talented leader. Steve’s presence helped ground us during times of discussion while urging us to look optimistically to ICSOM’s future amongst the seemingly never-ending negative rhetoric coming from all sides. Steve, thank you!