The Convention, New Initiatives, Pension Struggle, Negotiations and Fighting the Union Busters

October 13, 2019

It has been quite a year so far for us here in Local 72-147. We have begun new initiatives, made new friends, taken on new challenges, and continue to stand up to enforce our agreements. One of our priorities this year has been to develop new relationships and improve the communication and effectiveness of those we already have. We do this to strengthen our position as we move into a new season of music making where we will be renegotiating many new agreements and reaching out to the community.

In terms of reaching out we have a new series that is a result of our relationship with Klyde Warren Park in dowtown Dallas and the efforts of our members working together to broaden our footprint in the community. This “Musicians in the Park” series debuted last April. An adaptation of the Meet and Greet & Jam Sessions that we began doing throughout the community last year, we put together a concert featuring a house band jamming with featured members and reaching out to non members as well. This concert was more than a recruitment event though. It was an opportunity to speak directly to the city about our mission of being there for musicians, and not just any musicians, but OUR musicians. The musicians who are the musical voices of our home and city. Artistically the concert was an amazing success, gave us a moment to celebrate who we are and what we do, have some fellowship, and show the community how important we are to its cultural life. We are making plans for a follow up to this event, and are working to put together another diverse and quality program that people will come to see as a destination event.

We also, through MPTF funding, collaborated with Klyde Warren Park to bring music to the first ever Memorial Day Music Fest at the park. Sponsoring the East Stage during this one day festival, an estimated forty thousand people came to enjoy. Plans for this festival next year have already begun with the intention of improving on this already great success. We are so pleased to enhance the festival season (adding to the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival and the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival) with these new events. We are also working on new relationships which we intend to turn into new events to showcase our musicians, reach out to the musical community at large, and give back to cities in which we live.

While developing new relationships is an important part of growing and moving forward – we added nearly 100 new and and/or reinstated members in a membership drive while putting these events together(!) – we also have significant challenges before us in that time honored struggle for musicians wages and working conditions. In this newsletter you will read a report about the 101st AFM Convention which took place last June. In this convention we were part of a robust discussion of some of these large challenges. The changing technology in media has been a very difficult situation for musicians providing music in this industry. We may now be finally seeing a light at the end of a tunnel. Out of the ashes of the recording industry that we knew for decades is now rising its profitable replacement. Streaming is becoming the primary and rapidly growing platform for the selling of our media. We now see revenue rising where it had been drying up, and with that new bargaining opportunities at the federation level. This is revenue for working musicians, for the funding of our union, for MPTF, and for new and greater contributions to the AFM-EP Fund. Yes, there was much talk of the difficulties of our now beleaguered fund. Please see the special section in the newsletter addressing different aspects of the crisis, an explanation of its status, efforts to build new real revenue for the fund, and how it was debated at the Convention in June.

We also have contracts which have been newly negotiated. Wichita Falls Symphony now has a full fledged Master Agreement putting its bargaining unit into a much stronger status, and the musicians of both the East Texas Symphony and Casa Manana ratified new contracts during the summer. Other contracts under negotiation are with Waco Symphony and Dallas Theater Center, and a slew of other negotiations will be taking place in the next year.
Unfortunately, we are also facing a serious crisis with a blatant campaign of Union Busting carried on by the Las Colinas Symphony. This organization, after decades of labor peace has decided to take on its musicians contractual and legal rights. Recently 22 of its musicians have been illegally locked out in retaliation for the Union’s work in enforcing their contract and proctected rights. Read more on page 6.

Certainly, we have more than enough work to do as we carry on our mission to protect and advocate for musicians. It is labor, but a labor of love.