Author Archives: Rank and File

Great news – more good AFM jobs!

Breaking news from the American Federation of Musicians:

Dear Member:

New Line Productions, Inc. (New Line Cinema) has become the latest film studio to sign a contract with our union.

New Line Cinema signed onto AFM’s Basic Theatrical Motion Picture Agreement that sets wages, working conditions, healthcare and pension contributions for musicians working in film recording, sidelining and music preparation. Continue reading

Beyond the Red Carpet – musicians go to Congress

Beyond the Red Carpet 2015 brought the U.S. Congress Creative Rights Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Judy Chu and Rep. Doug Collins together with labor and industry leaders to showcase the women and men whose skill, talent and innovation create the magic in the American film and television industry.

This year, with the participation of RMA, the American Federations of Musicians stepped up to share our musicians’ narrative in the halls of Congress. Given a green light by President Ray Hair, our team consisted of Alfonso Pollard, AFM Director of Government Affairs, Marc Sazer, violinist and RMA President, Gail Kruvand, bassist from the New York RMA and Local Executive Board, and Ed Malaga, President of the Washington D.C. AFM Local.

We spent weeks gathering resources, preparing to bring our story to Congress. Our great thanks to Booker White (Walt Disney Music Library) and Mark Graham (Joann Kane Music Service) for sending scores and cue sheets for top film and tv titles. Andie Childs at the AFM West Coast Office compiled and shipped literally hundreds of AFM soundtrack CD’s. One of our key messages was that the musicians who are able to make a middle class living in film/tv are also teaching our children and performing in public, providing cultural equity to our society literally “beyond the red carpet”. We appreciate organizations like the Harmony Project, Education Through Music Los Angeles and Mostly Mozart, which contributed materials. Finally, a special thanks to Bruce Dukov for creating an original arrangement of the March from Indiana Jones for the event – it was a great hit!

photo of Representative Mark Takai, AFM Director of Government Affairs Alfonso Pollard and Marc Sazer courtesy of Frank McPartland

Our booth was one of many, but attracted wide attention in the room. Fellow exhibitors from film studios and other unions joined a number of members of Congress and their staff in dialogue with us. We were able to share who and what we are, and field interested questions from both sides of the political aisle in Congress.

Several films were the featured promotions of major studios. Twentieth Century Fox devoted their booth to Blue Sky Studios and the Peanuts move, Sony led with Goosebumps and Disney sent several Star Wars characters to circulate – it was great to be able to point out that these were all scored AFM, and our studio friends reciprocated by helping us meet people in the room.
We are thrilled to have had such a premiere opportunity to promote our people, our success and our economic and cultural contributions to our U.S. Congress.

SRLA Collective Bargaining

The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada collective bargaining agreement with the record industry is called the Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA), and is binding on the major record companies and their subsidiaries; Universal Music Group, Sony Music, Warner Music Group, Hollywood Records (Disney) and others.
Our union representation for media negotiations comprises: Continue reading

Recording Industry Negotiations

Dear colleagues,
This past week, the American Federation of Musicians held two days of caucus meetings in New York to prepare for Sound Recording Labor Agreement negotiations. We gathered in New York at AFM headquarters in Times Square; President Hair, legal counsel, staff, officers and representatives of the International Executive Board and Locals around North America.

Your RMA Committee for these negotiations includes rank-and-file representative Neil Stubenhaus, 47 rank-and-file representative Steve Dress, and me as RMA President. We were joined in New York by Roger Blanc Gail Kruvand and Chris Parker, all officers of RMA-NY.

Our caucus is union-side only; we reviewed data, heard reports from staff and counsel, and grappled with proposals for us to make across the table, as well as analyzed what we expect the record companies to propose to us. Our RMA team had helped the AFM and locals gather crucial information about the functioning of the contract over the past 3 years; we would like to thank all of you who brought us your ideas and concerns that we were able to carry into the caucus.

One element that is unprecedented this time around is the environment created by the litigation against the companies that has been filed by our Pension Fund. You can read about the legal action, and even read the full legal filing, here:

We will travel back to New York for negotiations on September 28, and we’ll keep you posted about developments as they arise.

Stay tuned!

Marc Sazer
President, RMA

Just Sue Us

Dear Member:

Have you been thinking that our union has seemed to be on a “legal rampage” lately? Maybe that’s because we recently filed three different lawsuits against major Hollywood studios in less than two months.

These studios have violated our contracts either by recording scores outside the United States or Canada or reusing soundtrack clips without appropriately compensating musicians.

When we addressed the inappropriate reuse of clips during contract negotiations, one company representative said, “Just sue us.”

Resolving contract violations through grievance meetings or neutral arbitrators makes sense. No one wants to go to court. Musicians working under AFM Jingle and Broadway Touring contracts for example file grievances—not lawsuits—when there are contract violations. But our film contract lacks a grievance and arbitration process.

So we are going to court as one of the many ways we fight to uphold industry standards.

Musicians standing together have the power.

In Unity,
Ray Hair
AFM President

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AFM sues studios on behalf of musicians

Some film studios have apparently been re-using our own performances to replace us, in violation of our collective bargaining agreements. That means fewer jobs, fewer hours of employment on jobs, fewer new use payments and fewer health care and pension contributions. Piracy harms all of us. As a result, the American Federation of Musicians is now taking legal action in order to protect our livelihoods.

Variety: AFM Accuses Movie Studios of Bilking Musicians on Reused Music
The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada has accused the six major studios of reusing film soundtrack clips without compensating musicians — including music from “Beauty and the Beast” and “Titanic.” read more here..

Hollywood Studios Sued for Recycling Film Soundtracks Too Much
A new lawsuit from the American Federation of Musicians counts dozens of examples, from ‘Bridesmaids’ to ‘Argo,’ where music wasn’t totally original. read more here..

AFM official announcement here

Read the lawsuit here