Austin Federation of Musicians

Time to Get Organized

  January 7, 2019  

My colleague, Aaron Lack, and I hopped on a plane to Washington D.C. at the beginning of December. We were headed to AFM Leadership Training. The American Federation of Musicians was hosting a 3-day training with leaders from the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center in Silver Spring, MD. We knew that this would be intense training, but we also knew that it would be beneficial to our office, our membership and the Austin, TX community.

The words of the week were Organizing, Transactional and Transformational. These words were daunting the first day, but they were empowering by the end of the training. Organizing is arranging into a structured whole. Transactional is when leaders are aware of the link between the effort and the reward. Transactions are activities leaders must do to get them checked off a list. Transformational activities cause changes in individuals and systems. When leaders inspire emotions in their members, it motivates the membership to act beyond the framework of transactional necessities. Every Local must complete transactional duties to keep the office running, but providing the transformational experiences within its membership sets the groundwork for effective organizing.

The tempo of the training kept a brisk pace due to the variety of learning activities provided. Local leaders were broken out into new groups or partners for each training exercise. This allowed us to work with other AFM leaders that we might not have the opportunity to work with throughout the year. Group and partner work enabled networking and the exchange of experiences between all of us. Role playing skits gave each of us a laugh, but provided a safe practice space before heading home. The “Organizing Conversation” handout that I have deemed “my new best friend” really brought the sense of the word into focus. Everything that we had been learning during training started to click.  One the last day we watched the video 1,000 People in the Street- 5th Ave. Musicians Strike (Local 76-493 in Seattle, WA). This provided a real-life example of how transformational activities support organizing, and how organizing can change a mindset and in turn create results. All of these training activities really helped me as I first felt a little overwhelmed by the loaded word Organizing. By the end I got excited to hear my once feared words because I understood the meanings, and I was armed with the tools that would guide me through any campaign.

By the end of the training I had three main takeaways: 1) Organizing is the key to any local’s success for its members and community; 2) We as the local leaders must first help internally organize if we want to make changes to our community and beyond for the future; 3) Don’t 3rd Party The Union- we are all the Union, an organized group of musicians and music industry professionals that stand together united for the greater good of the industry and the craft. Vince Santoro, Local 257 (Nashville, TN) Secretary/Treasurer had the best quote: “Right to Work is just a label for a mindset.” This quote has been circling my brain since he said it. Any mindset can be adjusted, with a little guidance and education. It’s about our members and communities taking charge of what they believe in and no label being able to stop the charge. Let that sink in a minute, repeat it to yourself, believe in it.

 If you have not had the chance to attend an AFM & AFL-CIO Leadership Program I highly suggest you attend the next training session. Not only did I have a wealth of information and ideas to bring back to my Local, I feel more confident in my ability to assist our members in any campaigns they would like to start. I also feel ready to take on any CBA negotiations that may arise in our jurisdiction. I would like to say thank you to Michael Manley, AFM Organizing and Education Director, Todd Jelen, AFM Symphonic Services Negotiator/Organizer/Educator, Bruce Fife, AFM Vice President and Local 99 (Portland, OR) President, as well as TJ Marsallo and Patrick Scott, Organizers for the AFL-CIO for their hard work putting this training together. There was a lot of information to put into only 3-days of training, but you all pulled it off. To my fellow attendees, it was great seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones. It’s time to get ORGANIZED!

Austin Opera’s Ratified CBA

  November 12, 2018  

Left to Right: Shawn Sanders, Aaron Lack, Daniel Gee, Bob Cannon, Annie Burridge, Nathan DePoint, Vincent Frittelli, Ames Asbell, Bev Frittelli, Steve Begnoche, not pictured Esther Sanders & Jane Owen

The Austin Federation of Musicians, AFM Local 433, is pleased to announce that The Austin Opera Orchestra’s Collective Bargaining Agreement for the next three years was ratified by The Orchestra Members, Austin Opera Management, and The Austin Federation of Musicians in early November. Initial research by AFM Trustee, Steven Begnoche began in early April. Preparatory meetings with The Austin Opera Orchestra Committee, Committee Chairperson, Robert Cannon, AFM Local 433 Negotiator, Aaron Lack, and AFM Trustee, Steven Begnoche were held at The Austin Federation of Musicians offices on East Ben White Blvd. in early June. Negotiating meetings with Austin Opera Management commenced in late June at the Austin Opera offices. Multiple remote consultations with AFM Symphonic Services Division Negotiator, Jane Owen, yielded guidance and insight into national industry trends throughout the negotiations.

The research and discussions of The Committee resulted in multiple improvements in working conditions that were proposed in negotiations and then achieved in this new agreement. New policies on discrimination, harassment and other types of misconduct were agreed upon and enacted. Yearly increases in pay were established that are greater than in the previous agreement. These increases are also above the national average according to The Symphonic Services Division of The AFM.

Many thanks to Austin Opera Management members, General Director & CEO, Annie Burridge, Director of Artistic Operations, Nathan DePoint, and Orchestra Manager, Beverly Frittelli. Gratitude is due to AFM Symphonic Services Division Negotiator, Jane Owen for her tireless commitment to the negotiating process. The Union Office would especially like to thank the Members of The Austin Opera Orchestra Committee: Chairperson and Principal Trumpet, Robert Cannon, Orchestra Steward and Cellist, Shawn Sanders, Concertmaster Emeritus, Vincent Frittelli, Principal Viola, Ames Asbell, Principal Violin II, Esther Sanders, Assistant Principal Viola, Daniel Gee Cordova. Their commitment and work for the benefit of all of the orchestra members was exemplary.

By Aaron Lack, Local 433 Member and Negotiator


Support Mariott Workers

  October 19, 2018  

Marriott workers in Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, San Diego and Hawaii are on strike fighting for fair treatment, dignity and respect from one of the richest hotel corporations in the world.

Hardworking hotel employees tried to reach an agreement over months of negotiations, but Marriott refused to make significant progress on key issues like a living wage and safety on the job. Now more than 7,700 UNITE HERE! members are on strike.

Please join me in standing in solidarity with these women and men. There will be a #MarriottStrike Day of Action in cities around the country tomorrow, Saturday October 20th. Learn more here. You can also sign the pledge to stand with hotel workers in their fight for a better future.

If you’re booked in one of the below hotels, please make alternate plans to not cross the picket line until the strike has ended.

Click Here for a List of Hotels On Strike

Musicians and other working people standing together have the power to win!

In Unity,
Ray Hair
AFM International President



Update: Ratified Agreement For The Chicago Lyric Opera On Strike

  October 12, 2018  

UPDATE:    The Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Musicians Union Local 10-208 representing its orchestra musicians have reached a contract agreement, just days after the musicians went on strike. The musicians ratified the deal Sunday evening, according to a statement.

In a tweet late Saturday, the Lyric Opera said that they and the Chicago Federation of Musicians Local #10-208  had reached a labor agreement that extended through the 2020/2021 season.

The final agreement includes a reduction in the number of main opera season weeks from 24 to 22 and a reduction in the number of musicians, according to a statement by musicians.

They add that the “concessions are mitigated by more favorable terms we were able to obtain.”

Other terms of the agreement include:

— A 5.6 percent increase in weekly salary over the 3-year contract term.

— The 2019-20 season now includes a guarantee of five (5) additional weeks for the “Ring” cycle, outside of the 22-week main opera season.
— The orchestra size will be reduced by four instead of five musicians, delayed until the 2019-20 season.
— The Spring musical is now guaranteed to employ 37 members of the Orchestra, and the salary for the musicals increases significantly (by 6.6%).
— There are new guarantees regarding the hiring of Orchestra musicians for Joffrey Ballet productions beginning in 2020.
— Health care benefits are maintained as is; family leave is now 8 paid weeks; and there are numerous other improvements in working conditions.


KOOP Radio Open House

  October 2, 2018  

KOOP Radio hosts open houses/membership drives in the Spring and Fall every year. They have a variety of local non-profit organizations together in the radio station to bring the community together, to gain members and to network. We had an opportunity to attend their Fall 2018 Open House as well as get a spot on the “Bringing Light into Darkness” live radio show hosted by Pedro Gato.


Thanks KOOP Radio for having us at your radio station. We had a great time!

To learn more about KOOP Radio click here.

Court Supports Musicians in Fight With Paramount Over Outsourcing

  September 28, 2018  

A Ninth Circuit appeals court panel sided with AFM in our suit against Paramount Pictures Corp. (“Paramount”) for recording the score to “Same Kind of Different As Me” in Slovakia.

“When musicians join together and fight—we win,” said AFM International President Ray Hair. “This is a major victory in standing up to large corporations offshoring our jobs to drive up profits at the expense of U.S and Canadian musicians.”

The original complaint, filed in June 2015, claims Paramount breached its collective bargaining agreement with musicians requiring Paramount films produced in the United States or Canada be scored in the United States or Canada.

Yesterday’s decision reversed a lower court’s 2016 finding that Paramount didn’t violate its contract by scoring the film overseas because it did not produce the movie. The appeals court said the lower court overreached in ruling that Paramount was not the “producer” of “Same Kind Of Different As Me,” as they did not “employ” the cast and crew and accordingly could not violate their contract with the musicians.

The appeals court opinion written by Judge A. Wallace Tashima noted that scoring occurs in postproduction and is separate from the shooting of films. Thus the lower court erred by presuming that “just one entity can ‘produce’ a motion picture and that the same entity controls both production and postproduction.”

“Same Kind of Different As Me,” directed by Michael Carney and starring Renée Zellweger, Greg Kinnear and Jon Voight, was filmed in and around Jackson, Mississippi but was scored in Bratislava, Slovakia.

To read the court’s ruling click here.

Music Modernization Act: Update

  September 28, 2018  

The House of Representatives UNANIMOUSLY passed the Music Modernization Act because musicians strongly stood together. The bill is not the law of the land yet—but we are almost there!
-American Federation of Musicians

To read the full update visit:

Respect The Band Campaign

  September 28, 2018  

Musicians on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live, The Voice and other live television shows are not paid when they appear on YouTube and network websites.

Right now musicians working on late-night, award, and other live television shows aren’t paid when shows or clips are “free” to watch online. But these “free” shows aren’t really free—they are supported by paid advertising just like broadcast television. Other performers are all paid residuals when live television shows stream.

Union musicians have been negotiating a new contract for almost two years, but the networks refuse to pay musicians for all of their work. The contract covers musicians who have regular gigs—but it also includes hundreds of other musicians performing on live shows as guests, as subs, on awards shows, or at sporting events.

That’s why musicians and music lovers are joining together to demand the networks negotiate a fair contract and respect the band. Add your name to urge ABC, CBS, and NBC to pay musicians when shows stream on YouTube & similar platforms.


Sign the petition here:

AFM Fair Play Fair Pay

  March 17, 2018  

While radio used to be one of the only ways we could hear music, times have changed. The explosive growth of streaming services, combined with the diversity of listening options have transformed the music landscape. Yet, the current laws governing music were designed for a media landscape that no longer exists.

The United States antiquated system treats musicians and their music differently depending on how we hear it—especially for AM/FM radio. While streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music pay performers for their songs, traditional radio stations don’t pay a cent for playing creative property and using it to sell advertising.

The bipartisan Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2017 aims to restore a core principle of fairness to music: People who work should be paid for their work, particularly when others are profiting from it. The Fair Play Fair Pay Act:

  • Treats music the same, regardless of how we listen to it. Under the legislation, all forms of radio, regardless of the technology or platform used, would pay a fair market value for music performances. This would ensure that big AM/FM radio broadcasters receive equal treatment with digital radio platforms that pay performance royalties to music creators whose songs are broadcast through the internet, cable and satellite channels. The bill would also end satellite radio’s special “grandfathered,” or below market rate, and apply the “willing buyer, willing seller” standard across all platforms.
  • Restores fairness for artists whose songs were written before 1972. Digital and AM/FM radio have stations that are dedicated exclusively to playing “oldies.” They earn millions each year from playing iconic records while refusing to pay anything to the performers who created them. While the issue is under litigation in the courts, this legislation makes it clear that pre-1972 recordings have value and those profiting from these recordings should pay appropriate royalties for their use.
  • Protects and exempts small, local stations. Big Radio is alive and well. Ten radio corporations are responsible for about half the revenue generated by the nearly $15 billion radio industry while maintaining an average operating margin over 30%. Local, small market stations still exist and this bill treats community radio differently than big broadcast. Under the legislation, local AM/FM stations with annual revenues below one million dollars would pay just $500 a year, covering all the music they can play for little more than a dollar a day. Public, college and other noncommercial stations would pay only $100 a year.

To Support Fair Play Fair Pay please visit to sign the campaign.

Artistry of Music

  March 2, 2018  

Artistry of Music was founded by timpanist, educator, programmer, and AFM Local 433 Member Tony Edwards. Artistry of Music helps musicians and music programs create a professional web presence and manage the administrative tasks that come along with this profession. Visit their website to learn more.