My trip to Las Vegas in June was the second time I visited that city. Amazingly enough for me, after never having set foot in Las Vegas before, both of my excursions to Las Vegas occurred in the space of a little over six months.
My first trip to Las Vegas had been for the January 11, 2010, AFM meeting on the state of our AFM-EPF pension, which I attended as a representative of my local. The second trip was to attend the AFM Convention as one of ICSOM’s AFM Convention delegates. It was my first AFM Convention, and I had been preparing for it, in part, by reading reports of the most recent ones. After reading them it occurred to me that if this Convention were to follow the same pattern as the previous two, some fireworks might be in store for all of us. The ICSOM contingent was energized and ready to get to work. The members of ICSOM’s delegation were Chairperson Bruce Ridge, President Brian Rood, Member at Large Meredith Snow (as an alternate Convention delegate), and myself. Secretary Laura Ross and Treasurer Michael Moore were also in attendance, as well as many other ICSOM delegates who had been elected as AFM Convention delegates to represent their respective locals.
The committees of the Convention had been meeting since the middle of the previous week, working on the various recommendations and resolutions that were to be presented to the delegates at the full sessions. This being my first AFM Convention, I learned that much of the work is done in these committees before the full convention begins. On Sunday afternoon of June 20, Chairperson Bruce Ridge and President Brian Rood each gave testimony before the Joint Law & Finance Committee and presented copies of the Call to Action petition letters with signatures from our ICSOM orchestras. Both Bruce and Brian spoke very persuasively and made very impressive arguments against Recommendations No. 2 and No. 24.
Monday, June 21, was the first day of the Convention, and it came with the traditional opening proceedings. The national anthems of both the U.S. and Canada were followed by the invocation and opening speech delivered by AFM President Tom Lee. After all these ceremonies were concluded, the standing rules of the Convention were submitted and adopted. In the afternoon, delegates dealt with most of the recommendations and resolutions from the Law Committee.
Day two opened with a memorial service commemorating all the past convention delegates, notable members, and many other friends of the AFM who had passed away in the last three years. There were tributes to Lorraine Bartlett (former AFM comptroller), Bob Crothers (former assistant to the president, going all the way back to J. Petrillo) and Harry Chanson (former chair of the Finance Committee and president of the Santa Barbara local). The recommendations from the Measures & Benefits Committee were dealt with, all favorably. Measures & Benefits was the committee on which Laura Ross and Michael Moore were members. Also considered on that day were some of the recommendations and one resolution from the Finance Committee. While business was being handled on the floor, the ICSOM team was busy gathering signatures on petitions to ensure roll call votes for Recommendations No. 2 and No. 24, if necessary. These were the two recommendations on which ICSOM had focused its Call to Action. The ICSOM team secured the signatures of 20 different locals. The minimum number of signatures required on a petition to ensure a roll call vote is 15 from individual locals or 30 individual delegate signatures. We surpassed the required number of signatures from individual locals for each petition. Nominations of officers were made and concluded during that day’s afternoon session.
After the preceding business had been concluded, Canadian delegate Francine Schutzman, president of OSCM, spoke from the floor. She pointed out that Recommendation No. 1, the financial package from the IEB, had not been taken up and voted on before the other recommendations and resolutions as required by AFM bylaws. Eddy Bayens, chair of the joint Law & Finance Committee, quickly put forth Emergency Resolution No. 2, which waived the Article 18, Section 1 bylaw requirement and gave the committee time to address the financial package more fully. Emergency Resolution No. 2 was accepted as amended. It ensured that Recommendation No. 1, in whatever form it came out of the Joint Committee, would be taken up by the Convention before the election of officers.
Day three was busy as delegates dealt with the remaining recommendations and resolutions. Most of these were dispatched quickly. On this day Recommendations No. 2 and No. 24, the subjects of our ICSOM Call to Action, were withdrawn by the IEB. Our roll call vote petitions had been submitted, so all was in place in the event that they were actually brought to the floor for consideration—but, as noted, they were withdrawn without comment. This day also brought out some rather blunt and somewhat vitriolic speeches from a few delegates on the floor. I thought this might be the moment when the real fireworks would ignite; but calm heads prevailed, and the business of the Convention continued without any unexpected, last minute maneuvers. At the end of this day, Substitute Recommendation No. 1 was brought to the floor for a vote. This recommendation would have increased dues in many areas, including membership dues, and would have hit musicians working in motion picture recording especially hard. It was a close voice vote, so a standing vote was called. The final outcome was that the recommendation was defeated by 10 votes (120 in favor to 130 opposed). After a short recess, elections of officers began at 5:10 p.m. We followed the unofficial election returns throughout the evening.
The agenda on the final day of the Convention included speeches from the five player conferences, all of which were well received. During his speech, Phil Ayling announced that this would most likely be his last AFM Convention as RMA president. ICSOM Chairperson Bruce Ridge gave the final speech of the player conferences, and he spoke eloquently. Bruce’s presentation was video recorded by Michael Moore, and Robert Levine placed a link to it on his blog, The AFM Observer . I encourage everyone to view it. The election results were announced, and it became official that we had elected an almost completely new IEB. There were 273 delegates from 169 locals for a total of 740 votes. Four locals did not vote.
Speeches by the outgoing IEB members were given, many full of emotion. Tom Lee and Harold Bradley were conferred with emeritus status in their respective positions as president and vice-president. Then the new IEB officers spoke before the body of delegates. Ray Hair, the newly elected AFM president, was gracious to the outgoing officers and energizing in his remarks looking to the future of the AFM. Ray, the new board, and, frankly, all of us know there is much work to be done at the AFM in order to strengthen our union. Ray pledged to work with all groups that make up the AFM—player conferences, small, medium, and large locals, and local conferences—to resolve our conflicts and build a stronger union.
As a sign of how swiftly change can happen, Ray and the new IEB stayed up most of the night and worked with the RMA to fashion a Second Substitute Recommendation No. 1. This substitute recommendation removed the supplemental market funds work dues assessment and established provisions allowing the IEB to work with a reinstituted Electronic Media Services Division (EMSD) Oversight Committee made up of three RMA members and one symphonic member. This joint effort will develop a flat fee to be assessed on musicians who make more than $2,500 in non-symphonic recording wages and will have to be ratified by all those affected musicians. This Second Substitute Recommendation No. 1 passed and goes a long way towards healing the effects of long-waged battles between the AFM and RMA. With that, the Convention drew to a close.
I know we all send our best wishes and support to the new AFM officers. They have many difficult issues ahead of them, and with all of us working together to help them in their efforts, we will secure a great and unified AFM.
I would like to thank all of our ICSOM delegates who collected the Call to Action petition letters, met with their local officers, and held counsel with their local Convention delegates to express ICSOM’s views on the issues of the Convention. I cannot stress enough the positive impact everyone’s participation had on this Convention. Working together to make our opinions and voices heard brings about change and strengthens our union. Our actions are a true testament of how activism in the life of our union creates the greatest environment for positive change. Because of our hard work and persistence, we achieved our legislative goals and continue ICSOM’s strong leadership role in the AFM.