So, what is a union anyway?
A trade union is a group of working people who come together to help themselves and each other. Strength in numbers enables them to bargain with employers. Combined purchasing power brings access to affordable benefits, such as insurance, legal services and low-interest credit cards. As union members, we have a voice and a forum to tackle issues that affect our work life and the future of our profession.
What is the AFM?
The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) represents musicians throughout the U.S. and Canada, and is the largest entertainment union in the world. As part of the AFM, Local 1000 members can get benefits we could never access or afford on our own.
Who can join Local 1000?
Local 1000 was specially chartered by the AFM to serve North American folk, bluegrass, celtic and other acoustic musicians who do most of their performing on the road. Our members include storytellers and poets as well. Some are soloists; others belong to small, self-contained ensembles.
Will the union get me gigs?
No. Getting gigs is your job or that of your agent. Once you have a gig, the union can make sure you are paid and treated fairly.
Through Local 1000 you can access the AFM’s Music PerformanceFund (MPF). MPF can help subsidize gigs in schools, nursing homes, parks and neighborhood centers. It allows us to be fairly paid while reaching the audiences who need us most and can afford us the least.
How much does it cost to join Local 1000?
See Dues, Fees and Scales for the current rate, and for an explanation of membership dues and work dues.
How do I join?
It’s simple. Fill out the online application and click “Send.” Or print out the application form and mail it to us with your check.
I already have my own contract. Why should I file one with Local 1000?
A union contract provides access to union benefits — pension plan, health insurance and more. Customize the union contract with a rider spelling out your particular needs, and you have all the assurance you get with your present contract; plus you have the collective strength of the union to back it up.
How does the pension plan work?
Your employer, the person or group that hires you to play, makes a contribution to the pension plan on your behalf, for a percentage of your wage or fee. For example, if your fee is $220, and the pension contribution is 10%, your employer pays $22 into the union pension plan.
What if the employer doesn’t want to pay an additional 10%?
You can swap part of your fee for pension. If you drop your fee from $220 to 200, $20 can go to the pension plan.
Why bother with the pension, then?
Because, dollar for dollar, the money is worth a lot more in your pension fund than in your pocket, or even in a savings account or IRA. And you can be vested in as little as 38 months.
What is minimum scale?
If you play a gig under a union contract, you must be paid at least the minimum scale set by the union. Local 1000′s minimum scale is set by a committee of members who understand the economics of the folk music and storytelling community.
Do I have to play for scale every time?
No, but if you play for less than scale you can’t file a union contract for that gig. Without a union contract you can’t receive a pension or health insurance contribution, nor can the union protect you in the event of a dispute.
Can I play with non-union musicians?
The AFM has a by-law on the books not allowing AFM members to perform with “… employees of the same employer who are not members in good standing of the Federation…” however, most locals do not enforce this by-law when it comes to “casual” or single engagements (the kind of gigs most of us get). For Local 1000, it is not an issue, and in fact we all know that working with non-members at festivals, clubs and other venues is the best way to spread the good news about our local. Our members are our best organizers.
So the union won’t be hassling me all the time?
No, but we will be there when you need us. We are not a big, intrusive bureaucracy, checking your card at every gig. We are your friends and peers; we share your needs and concerns. We can help you; and by joining and spreading the word, you can help us grow and serve our members even better.
I don’t think I can handle all that paperwork!
We’ve streamlined the paperwork and offer options to meet different needs. For example, you can request a contract from the office, or download it here. You can file contracts one at a time or in batches. You can set up an escrow account, from which your work dues will be deducted automatically, or you can have the office bill you for the contracts you file each month.
These procedures may be new to you, but you’ll find you get used to them quickly. And you can contact the office or the Member Services Committee any time you need help.