The past week, July 10-15, saw your representatives gather for another round of negotiations with the record industry for a successor AFM Sound Recording Labor Agreement. As in prior rounds, the setting was spectacular. Proskauer Rose, the legal representative of the recording industry, has moved into new offices at Eleven Times Square in Manhattan, gleaming with materials and technology, towering over midtown Manhattan and the Hudson River, a fitting home for one of the most successful and profitable law firms in the world. Indeed, on the next floor down, Proskauer Rose was negotiating on behalf of the NFL in their lockout against football players. Our employers go for the best when we are called for their record dates, and they also hire the best when it comes time to bargain our contracts.
Your representatives led by AFM President Ray Hair included most of the team that has worked so hard together over (and between) the previous rounds of bargaining. Our AFM International Officers included Vice President Bruce Fife, Secretary-Treasurer Sam Folio and IEB Officers Vince Trombetta, Tino Gagliardi and Dave Pomeroy. Our Rank-and-File Representative remains Neil Stubenhaus, RMA Intellectual Property Representative Bruce Bouton was able to join us for part of the week, and I participated as RMA President. Local Officers and Staff included Dean Rolando from Chicago, Jim Biros from Toronto, John Acosta from L.A., John O’Connor and Steve Dannenberg from New York, Dick Gabriel, Director of the AFM Electronic Media Services Division, and Pat Varriale, Assistant Director of the EMSD. RMA and Rank-and-File participants included Roger Blanc, President of RMA New York, Steve Dress, RMA Secretary, and musicians Tom “Bones” Malone, Chris Parker and Rafael Rishik. Our AFM legal counsel was Jeff Freund and Patricia Polach.
After several prior rounds of working hard to understand each side’s concerns and needs, there was some hope that we might be able to reach a “deal” by the end of this week of negotiations. Certainly there was much more straightforward bargaining this time round, and a great deal of progress was made towards a successor Agreement. We dealt with the issue of crafting terms and scales for non-traditional location recordings, that is, events like “ITunes Live from SoHo” and videos made by “the guys” at the back of the bus on tour. We also worked through industry’s goal of agreeing on new ways of covering their licensing of AFM records into consumer products and videogames.
But we ran out of time for a final Agreement. Complexity intervened; the devils were in the details, and we agreed to resume bargaining in September, in Los Angeles.
We have work yet to be done, and we are hopeful that we can continue to make forward progress. It can be unsettling to come to some agreements while other issues remain open, and assemble weeks or months later, and hope that everybody remains in the same successful and forward-thinking frame of mind upon return. However, our AFM caucus continues to work together cohesively, and we are poised for a successful completion to these negotiations. Substantial progress was made during this round, and you can be rightfully proud of the steadfastness, dedication and intelligence which the entire negotiating team brings to these complicated and crucial negotiations.
Please stay tuned, we will continue to keep you updated. As always, you can see this report and others at www.rmaweb.org.