The 99th AFM Convention, held July 22–25 at the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, has to be noted for the unprecedented spirit and unity exhibited throughout the entire four days of meetings. ICSOM Chairperson Bruce Ridge, ICSOM President Brian Rood, and I attended as the ICSOM’s elected delegates to the AFM Convention. ICSOM Secretary Laura Ross and ICSOM Treasurer Michael Moore were also there as delegates of their respective locals, and we were also joined by ICSOM legal counsel Susan Martin. I want to thank all the delegates who responded with comments in reply to our emails leading up to the convention. The input we received was informative and helped us prepare for a few of the recommendations and resolutions.
Congratulations are due to the entire International Executive Board (IEB). All the members of the IEB were reelected, and that has not happened in recent history. Their hard work during the past three years to put the AFM back on a secure fiscal path was a very large reason this convention had such a spirit of unity.
After much work and testimony before the Law & Finance committee, Recommendation #1, the financial package, was adopted overwhelmingly. It may well be a hard sell for some of the small locals, but the IEB made an excellent case for its passage, citing the work they have done to shore up the Federation’s finances and giving a plan for how the new revenue will be utilized to strengthen seven main areas of the AFM’s operations. The ICSOM team supported this substitute financial recommendation.
One other recommendation of concern for the ICSOM team was Recommendation #3, dealing with the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EPF). After much work and discussion with the IEB members, we were able to offer suggestions to the recommendation that I believe will work well for our ICSOM musicians. The AFM and the AFM-EPF representatives will be able to assist locals, orchestra committees, and orchestra members with education about our defined benefit pension plan designed to counter demands during orchestra negotiations to alter or change pension commitments. ICSOM extends grateful thanks to the IEB and Law committee for their help and understanding in working out this amended recommendation.
Wednesday, July 24, was a day that epitomized the spirit of unionism. There was a remarkable, spontaneous outpouring of support for the Twin Cities Musicians Union, Local 30-73, which has been at the forefront in the struggles faced by musicians of both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra during the past year. Over $70,000 was raised as, one by one, local presidents, AFM Convention delegates, ICSOM, and the other player conferences donated money to help out the cash-strapped local. It was a very emotional display of unity and unionism that I, for one, will never forget.