The Recording Musicians Association held our biennial Conference in New York this past month, graciously hosted by AFM Local 802. Arranging RMA meetings always presents challenges unique to who we are; free-lance musicians with unpredictable work schedules. For 2016, we planned our Conference to coincide with a round of record contract negotiations in New York. This gave us the synergy of bringing more rank-and-file musicians into the negotiations, and the efficiency of inviting AFM and Local officers and staff who were already gathering for the negotiations.
Delegates from New York, Nashville and Los Angeles met, along with AFM President Hair, Electronic Media Administrator Pat Varriale, our Local 802 host Tino Gagliardi, and throughout the Conference many of our union’s officers and staff, including International Vice President Bruce Fife, IEB Officer and Local 257 President Dave Pomeroy, Boston Local 9-535 President Pat Hollenbeck, L.A. Local 47 President John Acosta, Chicago Local 10-208 EMD Director Dean Rolando and others. Members of the RMA-NY Board attended as well, and provided logistical support throughout the Conference.
We began on the evening of Sunday, January 10, despite winter weather which forced flight delays throughout the region. We continued over the course of three evenings. As hoped, our Delegates and guests participated in the Sound Recording Labor Agreement negotiations during the days of their attendance, and our AFM negotiating committee was greatly enriched by the presence of added rank and file recording musicians.
Our Conference began with officer reports, elections, and other Delegate business. The Conference adopted Resolutions pertaining to Lew Mancini, the recently retired Chief Operating Officer of the AFM, as well as Dick Gabriel, past Administrator of the Electronic Media Services Division, and Jim Biros, past Executive Director of AFM Local 149 in Toronto.
We are pleased to announce that we have two new Officers in Treasurer Tom Rizzo (Local 47 in LA) and Executive Officer Gail Kruvand (Local 802 in NY). Our new Board includes President Marc Sazer, Secretary Steve Dress, Treasurer Tom Rizzo, First Vice President Bruce Bouton, Second Vice President Roger Blanc, and Executive Officers Gail Kruvand and Tom Wild. Don Foster, Secretary of the Los Angeles RMA Chapter, was elected RMA’s third Delegate to the AFM Convention, and will accompany Marc Sazer and Steve Dress who serve as Delegates by virtue of office.
Our meeting goals for this year’s Conference were focused on round-table discussions, sharing of information in an informal setting, and finding common ground between musicians in different cities and workplaces. The Conference heard reports on the state of major electronic media AFM contracts; sound recordings, motion picture, television film, tv/videotape, commercials, interactive, etc. President Hair and EMSD Administrator Varriale shared information about AFM strategies and negotiating schedules. One full session was devoted to a discussion of the sound recording negotiations, which helped prepare all of us for the week of negotiations that followed.
One session was set aside for sharing of experiences between Delegates and guests from Nashville, Los Angeles and New York. What transpired was uplifting, honest and authentic conversation about the challenges that we face with internal organizing, with rank-and-file Delegates joined by Local and AFM Officers.
Tom Mendel, President of the Theater Musicians Association, addressed the Conference on the second evening, and his remarks spurred spirited applause, and discussion. We also presented Delegates with materials provided by the different Funds of key interest to recording musicians. The U.S. pension fund, the AFM-EPF and the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund provided materials, and the Conference spent time discussing documents created especially for us by Dennis Dreith of the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund and Kim Roberts Hedgpeth of the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund.
The final evening of the Conference was co-hosted by RMA and the New York RMA Chapter. After brief reports, we held a panel discussion of intellectual property rights for musicians with a special focus on the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund. The panel, moderated by Sazer, included First Vice President Bruce Bouton, Local 802 President and IEB Officer Tino Gagliardi, and SAG-AFTRA Sound Recording National Director Stefanie Taub. Bouton and Taub are Trustees for the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund. The panelists shared a tremendous amount of information, taking a number of questions from the deeply interested audience.
RMA offers its appreciation to AFM Local 802 in New York for hosting our Conference. We extend our appreciation to all of the Officers from both the AFM and Locals who participated, as well as to Pat Varriale, the Administrator of our Electronic Media Division. Most importantly, we appreciate all of those recording musicians from around the AFM who take valuable time out of building their careers and lives to communicate and participate. You make our union musical community smarter and stronger.