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Tina Morrison
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Tina Morrison is now following theafmobserver
Jul 26, 2011
Rick, for a seemingly smart guy I am amazed at how susceptible you have been to the brainwashing that has been going on in our country. Free rein for the big guys, no rights for the workers. That’s worked out well – not! Unions ARE the workers, Rick. We don’t exist for any other reason than to represent the working people – even musicians. Artists I know are quite jealous that musicians have a union. I’m not president of my Local for my own kicks and grins. I’m there to do the best I can to make better lives for the musicians I represent and their families. The Labor Councils I’m involved with are filled with working people who are trying to do the same for the people they represent. Robert and Marc and Phil and so many other Officers and Staff that I’ve spent time with are all giving of themselves to try to make a better situation not just in the present, but also for future generations of musicians. We have Local Officers who either aren’t getting paid or make a pittance for their dedication. Some have dedicated years and years of their lives in service of their brothers and sisters. Tell me if I’m wrong, guys, but I don’t think the Players’ Conference Officers and Representatives get much more than reimbursements for their expenses. I’m not saying that Unions don’t make mistakes or that they’re not political – it’s obvious. However, almost no one I’ve met in the Union business has been after the almighty buck for themselves. When you are elected to be a representative, you have to represent the wishes of those who elected you. The RMA officers are simply living up to their obligations. They need to be respected – not vilified. I really try to understand…but I think that’s one thing I’m incapable of. Maybe me and other officers I know who are like-minded are in the minority, but we believe in process. We believe in our bylaws. It’s not about simply doing what we want; it’s all about representing our memberships and trying to create understanding and respect among all of the very diverse individuals and groups that we serve. We have to do that in negotiations, in dealings with the public, in problem solving, and among our member musicians. It seems to me like the RMA is simply trying to draw a very necessary line in the sand when it comes to the agreements they work under. Don’t let them erode. Let’s find ways of strengthening our agreements so as the business spreads around the country, the musicians working under the agreements will get real benefits. Let’s not let the recording industry get to the point that the clubs and venues are getting to where the only qualification for working there is are you cheap or free. If we’re not going to value the work musicians do, who is? I’m really tired of anti-union B.S.! It’s the product of people like Grover Norquist and Rush Limbaugh. They’ve marketed the B .S. very well over the years with nothing but support from the major players in big business. Once again the working people are looking around realizing they didn’t get to participate in the boom times; the money went to the CEO’s and CFO’s and UFO’s. Cutting orchestra musicians salaries because of mismanagement or bad endowment investments or because it’s no longer convenient to make a donation when “them that’s got” have to demonstrate they’re tightening their belts. That’s not what the USA is about. We stand together, we unite, we try to do what’s best for our communities. Please, Rick, if you’re just going to say the same thing all over again, don’t bother. If I want to hear those same arguments, I’ll just turn on FOX news. Please look back over the last 30 years or so and look what "smaller government", less taxes, "greed is good" has done for our country. Our health care is a mess, public education is a mess, our infrastructure is crumbling, our food is unsafe and we have to take our shoes off to travel.
Toggle Commented Jul 25, 2009 on Cohen to FMCS at The AFM Observer
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I am sorry. He has been helpful to me in the past. Thanks for letting us know. Best wishes, Tina
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Rick, Your answers keep creating more questions. 1) Is living in a buyout world a good thing? Could that have anything to do with our current economic crisis? How has it improved the lives of working people anywhere? Should Unions be working on changing that situation? Or do you really think we would benefit by lowering our standards? 2) There are talented musicians everywhere who are willing to perform jobs for free because they consider music performance a hobby, have day jobs and don’t realize the negative impact they have on the profession, or believe when they’re told that with exposure they’re going to get a big recording contract. Should the AFM just sit back and watch it happen or work on organizing and educating those musicians so we can bring up the standards? 3) Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the past hasn’t the RMA been involved with the development of low budget agreements that at the same time don’t undermine the other Electronic Media Agreements? The companies you refer to seem capable of complying with IATSE agreements, which are complex and require a certain amount of backend payments. Are the problems you’re referring to due to RMA or a lack of AFM organizing? If musicians were organized would that strengthen the existing agreements and help raise everybody up? Should the AFM (using member musicians’ money) focus its energy and attention on undercutting our members? Or organizing musicians and strengthening our agreements? In your post that created this dialogue you said: "It is not just the RMA. The RMA is an example, a symptom of our times. I feel exactly the same way about other people I know not connected to music. I think they are simply wrong in their ideological, political, economic viewpoints. But the country is currently experiencing a wave of popular leftism -- in government, in the media, at cocktail parties, at rehearsals, gigs... I believe this will come to a crashing and abrupt end but in the meantime the debates will continue." Would you like to reconsider, especially since that due to at least 8 years of what I read to be your ideological, political, economic viewpoints we are experiencing the worst recession since the Great Depression? Isn't that a crashing and abrupt enough end? Best wishes, Tina
Toggle Commented Jul 8, 2009 on Rick Blanc's response at The AFM Observer
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“The market in LA is much too political and controlled to assert honestly that a fair meritocracy has been established. That is one of my primary reasons for opposing the RMA. They claim this (meritocratic system) as being manifest and it is in part, but only in part. You have to know how to play -- that is a given -- but an open and fair meritocracy it is not. Furthermore those in favorable positions are protecting those positions in a way that goes too far. I understand the impulse to protect your work but that impulse, like many others, must be held in proper balance to other values and in proper balance to the interests of other musicians, particularly if they are members of the same union you belong to.” So this doesn't mean having the AFM regulate who the contractors can hire? And you're not implying that the AFM should get rid of the recording contracts or set lower rates so contractors can charge the same amounts and pay the musicians less? What are you trying to say? Plain language please so I can try to understand. Best wishes, Tina
Toggle Commented Jul 8, 2009 on Rick Blanc's response at The AFM Observer
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Rick, I’ve enjoyed looking up all your big words, but let’s cut to the chase. You support the free market but want the AFM to regulate recording by telling contractors who they can hire and possibly setting up some sort of a rotation system so everybody gets a chance? Just clarifying… Best wishes, Tina
Toggle Commented Jul 8, 2009 on Rick Blanc's response at The AFM Observer
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"Try this: I believe that an internally cohesive and financially healthy AFM is in the interests of the members of Local 8. I further believe that what Tom is doing is not going to produce an internally cohesive and financially healthy AFM." Beautifully said, Robert, and ditto!
Toggle Commented Jun 20, 2009 on The other lawsuit at The AFM Observer
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Right back at you, Rick: “You spoke of "...our union solidarity." Do you mean the kind of solidarity that files federal lawsuits against the mothership?” I see it as an act of desperation. If you don’t have a “meaningful voice in decisions that affect” you as stated in our Mission Statement it causes people to do things they otherwise wouldn’t. Union solidarity to me is to make all attempts to resolve our internal differences internally so we can show a united front to those who wish to exploit us (which should be external forces). I don’t believe all has been done and in my opinion other more important issues have been pushed to the side. My wish would be that AFM leadership would figure out a way to resolve these internal issues weighing out what is in the best interests of all of our members which may not include leadership’s “winning”. I don’t think they were elected to spend all their time and members money on fighting with musicians. We all have to pick our battles and figure out what is in the best interests of the majority in the long run. We’ve had years of this particular war and it is not in the interests of the majority of musicians made up of members like those in my Local. We’ve all seen instances of winning a battle and losing the war or cutting your nose off to spite your face. “You mentioned the RMA has not quit the AFM. But by re-energizing the Guild they have repeatedly threatened to, perhaps dishonestly. Does that forward the cause?” See my response above. “Maybe someone like me who attempts to inject reason and perspective into the process is making a contribution toward union strength and its future in a different and needed way -- or is there only one way to march in lockstep solidarity these days?” All members voices should be heard and respected in our Union, but you are not a member. If you want to have an active voice in the AFM – join. I also don’t think you have the background to “inject reason and perspective” because you don’t demonstrate that you have been an active participant in the Union. An active participant is someone who is a member, attends Local meetings, and educates themselves about the Union. You’re on the outside looking in. “You mentioned my missing $52 in dues money, $52 that, if this were the UAW or the CWA, you wouldn't be able to send to Democratic coffers against my wishes.” I didn’t say your $52 was going to be spent on lobbying, it’s not. Our political action fund is made up of personal donations – not member dues. I said it would go into the AFM to work on our issues. Clarifying – it goes into paying for AFM staff to provide information and support to Local Officers and members. How do you think the AFM exists? How does the AFM pay for office space and the International Musician? The AFM makes its income from per capita (The $52.50 portion of regular members dues forwarded from their Locals), initiation fees, and a portion of work dues primarily coming from our Symphony and Recording Musicians. If more people – like you – were paying dues the AFM would have more of a budget to increase staff and do more research to help musicians. Not knowing these things further demonstrates that you really don’t know what you’re talking about and you might rethink all of your opinions if you did. "I don't question the goodness of your intentions but assuming your impetus is truth and not an ideological agenda then you appear to be quite naive. We are talking about an environment characterized by power politics, not necessarily noble abstractions. Some people feel the need for endless agitation, rationalized in any number of ways. Some believe there is wisdom in restraint. Power politics. Whose will prevails? This is why we have institutional structure -- however imperfectly it handles the ephemeral." What I’m saying is that part of our institutional structure is the Mission Statement. If we all follow the instructions (including and especially leadership) we’ll have a better chance of avoiding internal fights. We have a lot of external fights we need to be working on and that should be the priority. “Power politics” are stupid and a great way to damage our institution. I'm simply a pragmatist and suggest we resolve the internal problems and focus on the external. If you were a member I might consider sending you a list of the external fights that I see Locals fighting everyday to benefit their members and preserve the music profession. Best wishes, Tina
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Rick, From www.opensecrets.org 2008 – Top 20 Lobbyist spending US Chamber of Commerce$91,615,000Exxon Mobil$29,000,000AARP$27,900,000PG&E Corp$27,250,000Northrop Grumman$20,743,252American Medical Assn$20,555,000Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America$20,220,000American Hospital Assn$19,652,914General Electric$19,423,000Verizon Communications$18,020,000National Assn of Realtors$17,340,000Boeing Co$16,610,000Lockheed Martin$15,841,506Koch Industries$15,450,000AT&T Inc$15,076,675National Cable & Telecommunications Assn$14,420,000Southern Co$14,080,000Blue Cross/Blue Shield$13,951,699Altria Group$13,840,000General Motors$13,781,000 2008- Top 20 PAC spending Operating Engineers Union $1,945,000 88% 12% National Community Pharmacists Assn $952,000 65% 35% Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $828,650 98% 2% AT&T Inc $624,775 48% 52% American Crystal Sugar $519,000 74% 26% National Beer Wholesalers Assn $508,000 60% 40% Carpenters & Joiners Union $500,000 80% 21% Honeywell International $465,000 67% 33% American Bankers Assn $441,500 51% 49% American Assn for Justice $439,000 96% 4% Boeing Co $345,000 63% 37% Raytheon Co $334,000 62% 38% Air Line Pilots Assn $329,500 88% 12% United Food & Commercial Workers Union $315,550 100% 0% Teamsters Union $315,500 99% 1% Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union $307,500 98% 2% Lockheed Martin $306,500 65% 35% AFLAC Inc $291,500 63% 37% Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp $287,241 55% 45% International Assn of Fire Fighters $279,000 89% 10% So the UAW (using your figures) would fit as #5 on the 1st list – the only difference being your numbers are an accumulation of 8 years and the lists above show spending in only one year. I agree that corruption can taint any organization/company, but you have to consider that Unions have elections that are watched by the Department of Labor. Corporations have no such oversight. The point I was making in my original post is that we have lost any semblance of balance and it’s time to work on achieving a balance with more regulation of Corporations and our society – including musicians- will benefit. One of the things you will notice in the Union PAC spending listed above is the percentages showing donations to each of the top two political parties. The percentages show there are voices other than the majority being represented. The AFM has a duty and responsibility to represent all members, including the minorities which in our case would be groups such as RMA. The way to represent them would be to follow the AFM Mission Statement which says: We are the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada, professional musicians united through our Locals so that: • We can live and work in dignity; • Our work will be fulfilling and compensated fairly; • We will have a meaningful voice in decisions that affect us; • We will have the opportunity to develop our talents and skills; • Our collective voice and power will be realized in a democratic and progressive union; • We can oppose the forces of exploitation through our union solidarity. To achieve these objectives, we must commit to: • Treating each other with respect and dignity without regard to ethnicity, creed, sex, age, disability, citizenship, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or national origin; (perhaps we need to add some language including genre and types of work - TM) • Honoring the standards and expectations we collectively set for ourselves in pursuit of that vision, supporting and following the Bylaws that we adopt for ourselves; • Actively participating in the democratic institutions of our union. With that unity and resolve, we must engage in direct action that demonstrates our power and determination to: • Organize unorganized musicians, extending to them the gains of unionism while securing control over our industry sectors and labor markets; • Bargain contracts and otherwise exercise collective power to improve wages and working conditions, expand the role of musicians in work place decision-making, and build a stronger union; • Build political power to ensure that musicians' voices are heard at every level of government to create economic opportunity and foster social justice; • Provide meaningful paths for member involvement and participation in strong, democratic unions; • Develop highly trained and motivated leaders at every level of the union who reflect the membership in all its diversity; • Build coalitions and act in solidarity with other organizations who share our concern for social and economic justice. Most of the issues we face, in my opinion, could be resolved through organizing, education, and simply following our mission statement. The RMA members are paying their membership dues, work dues and more. Their work is on contracts, have you filed contracts and paid work dues on your jobs? You admittedly are not a member which results in $52.50 per year less for the AFM to spend on our issues. Think of what we could do if all musicians were union members. Maybe we could all be compensated like the “rich” recording musicians. You claim the RMA is corrupt; my take on it is that the RMA has Bylaws and Elections which need to be respected. You also say “The RMA seems to believe that if it doesn’t get what it demands any amount of destruction is justifiable” which seems more to reflect your behavior of quitting the AFM. What would need to change in order for you to rejoin and would that reason be similar to what the RMA is asking for? The difference being that RMA hasn't quit the AFM. My guess is that if the AFM demonstrated clearly we were on the path defined by our Mission Statement the RMA members would have less of an issue investing in the Union. Now let's move on to a more productive discussion such as how we go about organizing and educating so we don't lose anymore ground during this economic mess! Best wishes, Tina
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Okay, let’s talk about Unions. I was given advice a couple of years ago that when talking about issues I need to “keep it simple.” I’m working on it, but definitely not there yet. I’m of the opinion that if Unions were stronger, had more density within the population of the U.S. we would not be in the economic mess that we’re in. If corporate America had anywhere near the oversight Unions do, it would have been virtually impossible for the CEO’s and Wall Street to gamble with our future and that of our children and grandchildren. More of the work force would have negotiated health insurance into their contracts so the costs would have been spread more evenly throughout the population. And more of the population would have had the ability to stand up to the prescription drug industry and the health insurance industry as they slammed their prices down the throats of US workers. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could access the financial information of corporate America in the same way they can examine the finances of Unions? Let them fill out something like the LM1 or 2 and have it posted on the internet for all to see, especially any of the banks or corporations being bailed out by tax payer dollars. Let’s impose some standards on how they do business in the same way that Unions are ruled by Labor laws. How about imposing special taxes on businesses with overseas bank accounts or who have moved their factories out of the US. Let’s create incentives for corporations to have their headquarters in the US and give tax breaks structured on how many US employees they have. Or if they’re manufacturing overseas, hit them with an import tariff unless they are paying fair wages and providing benefits that are equivalent to US wages and benefits. What I’m saying is basically, let’s even out the playing field. We need to change our laws to make it doable for workers to unionize. We also need to educate US workers that Unions are not the evil doers that corporations have been making them out to be. I keep hearing about how productive US workers are, but wages and benefits are not keeping up. It’s not only that US workers are overspending, they’re under-earning! It’s long past time for Corporate America to show their support and take some responsibilities. We’ve been watching the CEO salaries get so blown out of proportion leading to disparities last seen at the turn of the 20th century when the Carnegies, Rockefellers, and Morgans made their wealth on the backs of the working people. Unions missed the opportunity over the last 8 years when it would have made the most sense to rise up and fight for working families. The excuse is that Labor Laws and the political environment made organizing difficult to impossible. Corporate American has been blackmailing this country for a long time. “Unionize the workforce and we’ll move it overseas.” They did it anyway. What does this have to do with Music? If workers were earning decent wages and working a reasonable number of hours, they would have the leisure time to go out and support music in their communities or hire bands for their personal events (weddings, family reunions, etc.). They may have a few bucks and the energy to attend concerts and purchase CDs or MP3s. If musicians organized and stood together we might be able to build enough power that we wouldn’t be fighting over scraps. Let’s create incentives to bring the work here (wherever that is within the AFM) and have it pay properly. There’s enough money in the movie industry to pay for what the contracts call for. It’s not simply up to the AFM to uphold our contracts. It’s up to musicians and not just the identified Recording Musicians. We need a vision for what we want our future to be. I believe the AFM gives us the structure to realize that vision. I’m asking that our discussions be taken to a new level that would allow us to develop a collective vision and create strategies to get us there. Oh, and one other thing, to develop a committed group of musicians who will participate in the work that it will take to make anything happen!
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