By John O’Connor
The June AFM convention brought big changes to our union. Ray Hair, President of the Dallas/Fort Worth Local was elected president of the American Federation of Musicians in a contested election against incumbent Tom Lee. Hair has been a supporter of Local 1000 from its beginnings and is an enthusiastic champion of the organizing model of unionism.
Elected Vice-President in a contest with incumbent Harold Bradley was Bruce Fife from the Portland, OR Local. Fife pioneered the Fair Trade Music campaign in Portland which encourages venues to sign agreements to treat musicians fairly.
Elected to the 5-seat International Executive Board (IEB) were Tino Gagliardi, president of Local 802 in New York City, with a proven record for fighting for democracy and openness in the union and David Pomeroy, who successfully ran a reform ticket to unseat a long-rooted power base in the Nashville Local.
The newly-elected IEB has a majority of members who support organizing and who are likely to lend a helping hand to Local 1000’s agenda, where for the last 9 years the Local stood alienated against the Federation’s leadership, largely due to Lee’s animosity.
In past years there have been upward of 100 resolutions and recommendations that have come to the convention floor. This year there were only 25 recommendations and a paltry 18 resolutions. Among the recommendations was one to raise dues. Both the recommendation and a substitute recommendation failed to pass muster of an unimpressed delegation wary of more-of-the-same.
A tax on special payments which was voted on several conventions ago was lifted. A compromise dues resolution was passed only after new leadership elected, which would reach into the pockets of recording musicians who reached a particular level of income. But any dues increase would have to be ratified by the players affected.
The AFM moves forward with serious financial woes and continued membership decline. But with new leadership who understand that change for the Union in the way of presenting a completely new face to musicians in North America, there is much to be hopeful for. Local 1000, as the Local that has represented such a face, is likely to have its voice heard by the Federation leadership for the first time in years.