Videogames and the right to ratify your contract

Voters_125We all know this is a mess and it is not getting any better. While companies earn all-time profits, AFM Video Game employment has nosedived. Sadly, AFM wages for 2008 were half the wages in 2007.  Part of the problem is that the Federation is hiding the ball. There are big headlines in the IM, but even interested Locals can’t get actual numbers from their own International Union.

We have tried to help: RMA has worked long and hard to help the AFM find success in this area, and we stand ready to continue our efforts to help. We have contributed extensive research, attended endless meetings at our own expense, given untold hours working on contract language, outreach and education. The RMA Video Game Committeee brought a consolidated Video Game proposal to the AFM’s Executive Board (IEB). It was the product of hundreds of hours of work and consultation with players in many cities all across the AFM. It was completely ignored. One IEB member said it just “fell into the abyss”.

IMPuffPiece250Federation supporting non-union work: The administration’s approach of racing to the bottom has led to non-union scoring sessions and non-union copying, orchestration and librarian work – for “AFM Videogames”. In fact, a recent IM displayed a photo of a headline AFM videogame scoring session that featured a non-union, cash Seattle copyist.
What is going on here?

We can’t afford this anymore.
Your right to vote has been denied, and the results are clear. Wages are down. Health care and pension are down. Your work is down. But the Federation continues to spend lots of our money promoting contracts they won’t let you see, or vote on.

We can’t afford this anymore.  Your right to vote has been denied, and the results are clear. Wages are down. Health care and pension are down. Your work is down. But the Federation continues to spend lots of our money promoting contracts they won’t let you see, or vote on.

Walking away from the labor movement: On October 1, 2009, SAG and AFTRA announced tentative agreements with the videogame industry for their latest contract. RMA requested numerous times that the AFM send observers to their negotiations, both to build bridges with our fellow unions, and to present ourselves to employers as part of a larger entertainment industry labor movement. Unfortunately, our voice went unheeded by the AFM.

No Contract is an island: Federation Officers refuse to accept the obvious; that videogames and other media are converging, and that undermining music protections in this area harms AFM jingles, records, film and television. The AFM is trading away success for failure. They are giving up professional standards and threatening future employment everywhere else.

Dis-organizing: In a radical departure from past practice, the AFM has decided that it alone has the answers to organizing recording employment. The IEB has decided that it knows better then those who have spent their lives working in media industries. The proof is clear and present: your employment has suffered as a result. The AFM has refused to listen to the rank and file – and we are paying the price for their behavior.

The right to ratify. Denied.

And despite repeated requests, the AFM refuses to allow players to ratify their own contract. They refuse to let the AFM members who do this work have a simple vote.

RaisedHandsA petition calling for the right to ratify was submitted to the IEB with hundreds of  signatures.

Musicians have addressed the IEB openly and straightforwardly, both in print and in person. If the Videogames contract they imposed upon us is so effective, why not let the people who actually work under it vote?  Instead, rather than let the affected musicians decide how they want to proceed, the Electronic Media Services Division continues cutting secret deals with non-signatory employers. They cut those deals with no input or oversight from the rank-and-file.

Workplace democracy affects you. It affects all of us.

So when you hear your RMA leadership expressing deep concern that there is no process; no oversight as required by AFM Policy and Bylaws; no democratic rights – it’s not personal. It’s business.

Good process benefits everyone; bad process harms us all.

It affects you, and it affects all of us.

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