This past week a cohesive team of AFM Officers, Local Officers, Rank-and-File Representatives and Staff embarked on negotiations for a successor agreement for the AFM Sound Recording Labor Agreement. We met in New York, with caucuses beginning on Monday, January 10, and our first meeting with the Record Labels the afternoon of the following day.
There were new faces on our team, and a new spirit of cooperation and teamwork. President Ray Hair had set the tone weeks earlier, by calling for preparatory conference calls that cast a wide net of inclusion. In our caucus he made clear he would expect rank-and-file musicians to play a key role.
Our RMA Rank-and-File Representative for these negotiations is Neil Stubenhaus, who provides us not only his own remarkable abilities, but the experience of decades of negotiating sessions, and detailed knowledge of the contract and its negotiating history, and how it functions in the real world. I participated as RMA President, and was joined by RMA Second Vice President Roger Blanc, who is also the President of RMANY, and RMANY Officers Lanny Paykin and Juliet Haffner. RMA First Vice President Bruce Bouton from Nashville was set to join us but was snowed out, and will be a key participant in future rounds. Rank-and-File David Finck was also able to join us.
The IEB Officers invited by President Hair to join the committee included Vice President Bruce Fife, Secretary-Treasurer Sam Folio and Executive Officers Dave Pomeroy (Nashville), Tino Gagliardi (New York) and Vince Trombetta (Los Angeles). Locals sent representatives as well; Garry Matts, President of Chicago along with Chicago EMD Director Dean Rolando joined L.A. Vice President John Acosta, Toronto Executive Director Jim Biros and New York Recording Vice President John O’Connor and EMD Director Steve Dannenberg. Key staff included Dick Gabriel, Pat Variale and Chuck Skorupski. AFM Counsel, who play a key role in the negotiations, included AFM General Counsel Jeff Freund, Trish Polach, and Anne Mayerson, who joined us for our first-day caucus. In an effective use of technology, Dave Pomeroy seemed unfazed by having to participate by VideoSkype, as he was unable to travel to New York.
We sat across the table from the main Record Companies who are signatory to this agreement and their Chief Negotiator, Bernie Plum of Proskauer Rose in New York.
We did not conclude an agreement, and it would be fair to say that we are in the early stages of these negotiations.They will be tough, and require a great deal of time, energy and resources.
It is important to know that we are part of a strong and unified group, and I am confident that as we return to the table at the end of March we will be making our best efforts on behalf of AFM recording musicians, and the union as a whole, for the future of this crucial AFM Collective Bargaining