We Are All In This Together - We Are The Union

December 21, 2020

It would be a gross understatement to say that this past year has not been a great one. This pandemic has hit musicians and other artists and entertainment workers particularly hard, and a great many of us are still very worried about the immediate future of our industry. If that wasn’t enough, the most difficult thing of all about this pandemic for most of us is the psychological stress put on us by not being able to make music together, and the feelings of isolation this causes.

But we are not alone – we are all in this together, and we will get through this. The qualities of unions like ours are the very qualities that are necessary to survive – collective action is all about unity and strength in numbers, and AFM membership gives us access to networking tools, connection to peers, and helps to provide a sense of musical identity. I think every one of my FWSO colleagues would agree that the experience of the strike we went through in 2016 is a good example – the performances we put on ourselves during that fall were full of tremendous emotion, which carried over afterwards, raising the playing level of the ensemble permanently.

I know that the FWSO musicians are grateful that our management has found a way to keep us performing in front of very appreciative audiences, and the DSO management also deserves high praise for their efforts to keep our art in front of the public.  As President Williams has written, our Local has put on dozens of concerts with the help of the AFM’s Music Performance Trust Fund, that have helped many free-lancers replace some of the income they have lost.  Check out these live-streamed shows if you haven’t already – the energy is fantastic. We will continue producing these concerts this coming spring.

The AFM has worked hard to bargain some special COVID-19 agreements that allow for our employers to be able to stream performances and keep the music going.  TEMPO, the AFM’s political action committee, is still lobbying Congress hard about artist rights issues, digital performance rights, and pandemic relief for entertainment industry workers.  There are relief funds available, both nationally and locally. If you are in need of financial assistance, please don’t hesitate to apply.

We are all in this together, and we are asking you to please help us help each other by paying your dues. Your officers and Executive Board have all been re-elected, and we are proud to serve. We are working hard to get us all back to work safely, but we cannot do it without you.  The union is not some disembodied thing – we are all the union, and we are all dependent on each other to protect our jobs and the future security of our families. The whole world needs our music, all of it, now more than ever, and we have to support each other to make that happen.