All posts by psharpe@afm.org

Mailing #5

September 22, 2014

To the Members of La Guilde des Musiciens et Musiciennes du Québec, Local 406, AFM:

As you are aware, after years of dialogue and debate, La Guilde and the AFM were very close to entering into a “Service Agreement”, which would have provided $170,000 from the AFM in additional funding to help fulfill Local 406 obligations under Provincial Status of the Artist legislation. At the last moment, La Guilde’s administration added an additional demand – for total autonomy, thus torpedoing the discussions and revealing the administration’s actual agenda – disaffiliation.

As posted on La Guilde’s website, on or about September 16, 2014, Local 406 filed a request in Quebec Superior Court to obtain a declaratory judgement. The essence of what La Guilde’s administration has asked for is a ruling that would permit La Guilde’s administration to ignore its own bylaws and the AFM’s in order to convert the recent disaffiliation survey into an actual vote for secession from the AFM. In other words, after having failed to provide proper notice of motion to the membership last December and then having failed to achieve the 2/3 majority required by La Guilde’s bylaws to amend the bylaws to effect dissolution, La Guilde’s administration now wants the court to say that those rules don’t matter. Indeed, the administration wants the court to say that a razor-thin majority (53.3%) is good enough to impose a drastic change on the local and that the other nearly half of the membership who voted the other way do not count.

Once the Canadian Office was served with the court documents and it became clear that La Guilde’s administration was prepared and determined to completely disregard its own bylaws, the AFM International Executive Board (IEB) had no choice but to place La Guilde under trusteeship, as per Article 5, Section 70 of the AFM Bylaws.

Mr. Emile Subirana was carefully selected as Trustee because of his fifteen (15) years of experience managing La Guilde’s affairs, knowledge of Quebec laws and obligations and his ability to communicate in multiple languages. To be clear, his position is not a candidate for president, but an AFM guardian to direct Guilde staff and affairs until such time as an election could be held.

On September 18th, a court bailiff, Mr. Subirana and I arrived at La Guilde offices to serve the Trusteeship letter from International President Ray Hair, and gain access to and control of the Local. We were denied entry, and the letter from the President was ignored.

That afternoon, we attended a court hearing whereby the AFM made a motion for an interlocutory and provisional injunction to compel La Guilde to comply with the President’s order in accord with La Guilde and AFM bylaws. Mr. Justice Hamilton ruled, in essence, that since the parties would be back in court for La Guilde’s motion very shortly, he saw no emergency situation which would warrant an injunction at this time. However, he reserved the right for the AFM to apply again if La Guilde violated additional Bylaws or failed to meet its obligations as an AFM Local. The situation therefore, is at this time, status quo, in that the Local and the AFM will maintain their relationship and service to the members. Our office will endeavour to keep you updated as events unfold. In addition, please visit www.cfmismyunion.ca.

Sincerely and fraternally,

a_willaert

Alan Willaert, AFM Vice-President from Canada

Original PDF document link below

To the Members of La Guilde des Musiciens et Musiciennes du Québec, Local 406, AFM

Press Release

THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF MUSICIANS REACTS TO RESULTS FROM A CONSULTATION HELD AMONGST MEMBERS OF LA GUILDE DES MUSICIENS ET MUSICIENNES DU QUÉBEC

MONTRÉAL, QUÉBEC – June 13, 2014 – The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (« AFM ») wishes to react to results from a consultation initiated by La Guilde des musiciens et musiciennes du Québec regarding a potential disaffiliation from the AFM.

Despite having campaigned since it was decided on December 19, 2013 during the Guilde’s General Membership Meeting to hold such a consultation, results are barely over the simple majority as 46.6 percent of the members surveyed, voted against the disaffiliation. For a disaffiliation to occur, it would now, among other conditions, require more than two thirds of the members in a general assembly to amend the statutes and to vote in favour.

“The music industry does not differ from many other segments of the economy and is increasingly subject to globalisation. Musicians are now called upon to travel and practice their profession outside the province or the country. The AFM brings unparalled negotiating power while respecting regional specificities,” declared Alan Willaert, AFM Vice President from Canada.

In case of disaffiliation, la Guilde des musiciens et musiciennes du Québec has been made aware that it would have to turn over to the AFM all records, funds, assets and properties.

“Consultation results make it possible to conclude without a doubt, that La Guilde should now focus on its primary role which is to represent our members. We hope that this episode is now behind us and that we can work together going forward, in the best interest of all Quebec-based AFM members.” concluded Mr Willaert.

Regarding the AFM

Since 1905, la Guilde des musiciens et musiciennes du Québec has been a chartered local of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada.

The AFM draws on the strength of its 90,000 member-musicians, with 17,000 active members in Canada. The AFM and its 25 chartered locals across Canada negotiate agreements for their members which protect ownership of recorded music and secure benefits such as health care and pension.

In addition to contract negotiations, the AFM offers specialized services ranging from immigration to media recordings to touring; and the AFM actively lobbies government on Copyright reforms as well as other matters of interest to professional musicians living in Canada. The AFM is there to help its membership take advantage of all career opportunities and to optimize the level of their professional working environment at every stage in their careers.

For more information, please visit www.afm.org

-30-

Contact :

Jessica Vadnais

514-987-9711

Mailing #4

 

It’s not complicated.

 

Vote NO, to keep 406 in the AFM                       Vote YES, – lose the AFM

 

… and continued participation in the Musicians’ Pension Fund of Canada is guaranteed. … and there are NO guarantees. MPF takes contributions from AFM employers only. Your pension will stop growing. Without MPF Canada, the Guilde must start up its own pension fund. MPF Canada has been building for 50 years nationwide. How long will it take Guilde leaders to replace it in just one province? And how long to vest? That’s a roll of the dice you can’t afford.
… and you retain access to fast, affordable P2 work permits for work in the United States. … and you stay home. The Guilde has promised “subsidized” work permits – which means you pay, along with the cost of an immigration lawyer, and wait how long?
… and your membership dues stay the same, as do your services. … and your dues may skyrocket. Both Provincial precedent and AFM Bylaws state if the Guilde disaffiliates, it must turn over all its assets (money and equipment) to the AFM. Overnight, the Guilde will have to replace all its money with new money, and fast, in order to keep staff and services. Where will the money come from? Your wallets.
… and, if you’re in an orchestra, bargain with management knowing that you have the strike fund at your back, funded by every major orchestra on the continent. … and, if you’re in an orchestra, bargain with management knowing that if you have to strike, you’re on your own. If the Guilde is out of the AFM, you’re out of the strike fund. Of course, the Guilde should create its own strike fund, but who would pay for it? You. And how long before it has enough money to help? Years.
… and you remain connected to and a part of the only national/international union dedicated to serving musicians. The AFM is a union run by musicians, for musicians, and the world knows it. When we speak with one voice, we speak with power. … and you are an island, surrounded by a sea of musicians no longer concerned with your welfare. Forget working in other locals for other employers. Forget about Guilde leaders being able to speak for you to the rest of the country. No one will listen to them, because they won’t have to.

 

Employees and other workers gain strength in their workplace by banding together for their common interests. Unions gain strength in their industries by combining resources and focusing their priorities. A YES vote is a step back to the Dark Ages. A NO vote is an affirmation of unity and solidarity, and a commitment toward an even better future.

 

Please visit cfmismyunion.ca to learn more.

An Open Letter from the Canadian Conference

An Open Letter from the Canadian Conference

May 12, 2014

Dear CFM/AFM Member.

The 406 Referendum Website contains a segment of a 2013 report prepared by the Executive Board of the Conference of Canadian CFM Locals and directed at the International Executive Board of the Federation. The selected language may create the impression that the CC Board is in favour of the disaffiliation by La Guilde des Musiciens et Musiciennes de Quebec from the AFM.

NOTHING IS FARTHER FROM THE TRUTH.

The CC Board is made up of experienced, dedicated and caring individuals who administer Locals across Canada. They are acutely aware of the reality that united we negotiate, but divided we beg. That applies to persons as well as provinces and nations.

It is in the interest of Canadian musicians, wherever they may reside or perform that they are represented by one strong united organisation rather than by two or more, not only from a labour representative perspective but also from a linguistic/cultural point of view.

The CC Board and the CFM National Office have played a significant role in informing the IEB of the unique cultural/labour circumstances that are in place in Quebec. The IEB has come a long way making considerable human and financial resources available to la Guilde.

Divided we are less efficient representing the interests of musicians in Canada, including in Quebec. United internationally we are infinitely stronger and more effective throughout North America.

Neither music nor financial interests recognise borders. Our representative horizon needs to be equally broad. As we are not convinced that this disaffiliation initiative is driven by the membership, we urge you to carefully consider the above sentiments.

If you require additional information, the CC Board and its members look forward to hearing from you.

Fraternally Yours

The Executive Board of the Canadian Conference of Musicians

musicians@bellnet.ca

Mailing#3

Dear AFM Local 406 Members:

You should have all received the Special Announcement email on February 19, 2014 from AFM Local 406.  In response to the comments made by Local 406 on obtaining temporary work permits to perform in the United States I asked Liana White, Executive Director of CFM, to prepare the following information in response to those specific comments.

Sincerely & fraternally,

a_willaert

Alan Willaert, Vice President from Canada

Canadian Musicians in the USA:
THE TRUTH ABOUT OBTAINING U.S. TEMPORARY WORK PERMITS

When it comes to foreign musical artists performing in the United States it is the American Federation of Musicians which is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS] recognized stakeholder and peer organization. AFM’s involvement in US immigration matters for musicians is not limited to petitioning for the P2 classification.  Therefore, even when AFM is not the petitioner of a work permit, petitions for all classifications of temporary work permit for foreign musical artists must still go through the USCIS mandated AFM consultation process.  If the mandatory peer consultation letter is not attached to the petition at the time of filing with USCIS they automatically contact the AFM.  Likewise, stage actors require a mandatory peer consultation letter from Actors Equity, film actors from SAG-AFTRA, technical workers from IATSE, choral performers [solely vocals, no instruments] from AGMA, and so on.

AFM members are not charged a fee but non-members must pay $250-$300 USD to AFM for the mandatory consultation.  The consultation fee is atop the cost of the petition fee [$325 USD minimum] and the cost associated with engaging a professional to prepare and file the petition, such professional services will typically cost $2,500 USD, sometimes more, depending upon the type of permit being petitioned for.

Providing this service is not quick and easy nor financially lucrative for a not-for-profit organization and union.   There are many administrative expenses, one example of which is the cost to send daily couriers to USCIS, which AFM spends over $20,000 on annually. The AFM’s administration fee merely off-sets the vast administrative costs incurred by the AFM – the AFM rarely breaks even in an effort to keep the cost to members as low as possible.

If Local 406 has financial difficulty in meeting its bargaining obligations as mandated under Québec Provincial Status, they will find it even more financially straining to absorb all of the administrative costs and processing fees associated with this type of service.

There are guidelines and criteria to meet under each US temporary work permit classification, therefore, one cannot just obtain any classification of permit desired.  To be a successful petitioner, as AFM/CFM has been for the last 30+ years, one needs to know the US immigration system well.  It’s easy for anyone to say they can do the paperwork, but can they actually produce the most important piece of paper to the process – the Approved work permit?   If you would like more detailed information on the various classifications of US work permits, please email Liana White lwhite@afm.org , for English services and Fatima Gueye fgueye@afm.org for French services.

Mailing#2

February 25, 2014

To the Members of La Guilde des Musiciens et Musiciennes du Québec, Local 406, AFM:

The leadership of the Guild will be conducting a referendum to disaffiliate from the AFM.

You are receiving this communication in order to bring you more information concerning the ramifications of seceding from the AFM.

Music is a global industry, and becomes more so every day.  Musicians must look beyond their city and province to earn a living in our chosen profession.  At a time when the ability to solicit work throughout Canada and the United States is of high priority to the careers of full-time musicians, the Guild seeks to close the door and make Quebec an island.

The Canadian Labour Congress has been engaged in defending against the anti-labour forces with a marketing campaign called “Together… Fairness Works”.  The strategy is to strengthen the ties of members to their union, to form a bond of solidarity that cannot be fractured by union-busting tactics.  The CFM is fully engaged in this campaign, and as part of our participation, you are receiving the enclosed button which shows our pride in our union.

The Local 406 Charter was issued by the AFM as per the Bylaws.  Those same Bylaws also govern what will happen should the Guild achieve sufficient support to disaffiliate.  The Charter, the Local and all the assets belong to the AFM.  The new entity would begin with nothing, and would be unable to service any remaining musicians.

This, plus the loss of all the benefits and services that emanate from the AFM, would be a disaster for the musicians of Québec. We must say “no” to the Guild leadership’s short-sighted plan to take Local 406 out of the AFM.

As members of Local 406 of the AFM, we have the best of both worlds.  Local 406 negotiates with us and for us for our work in Québec, while the AFM secures our work and our benefits in the rest of Canada and the United States.  If the Guild leadership’s plan succeeds, one of those worlds – the larger one – will disappear.

This is a very complicated problem. Please go to www.CFMismyunion.ca (for a French version, visit www.FCMestmonsyndicat.ca) to learn what’s in our best interests.  Consider with great care – for everyone’s sake – what is at stake. Please feel free to contact me by email with your thoughts on this complex issue.

Sincerely and fraternally,

a_willaert
Alan Willaert

Vice President from Canada, AFM

awillaert@afm.org

Mailing#1

January 31, 2014

To the Members of La Guilde des Musiciens et Musiciennes du Québec, Local 406, AFM:

The leadership of the Guild will be conducting a referendum to disaffiliate from the AFM.

What’s important to us? Continued access to the P2 permits to work in the United States?  Having the symphony strike fund at our back when we’re negotiating a new contract with management?  Our solid pension with the Musicians’ Pension Fund of Canada?

If we can answer “yes” to even one of these questions, then, for the sake of our livelihoods and our families’ security, we must say “no” to the Guild leadership’s short-sighted plan to take Local 406 out of the AFM.

Why?

Because if the Guild goes, those benefits and more could no longer be available.

As members of Local 406 of the AFM, we have the best of both worlds.  Local 406 negotiates with us and for us for our work in Québec, while the AFM secures our work and our benefits in the rest of Canada and the US.  If the Guild leadership’s plan succeeds, one of those worlds – the larger one – disappears.

Labour is under attack globally.  Negative forces are at work that want to divide us so that they can exploit us.

Music is the one, single unifying language of the world, and we are the standard-bearers of that language.  We must work to stay together – not to separate – so that as one strong union, each one of us – and all of us together – can retain our strength and secure the benefits that we, who are so vital to an enlightened society, deserve.

This is a very complicated problem. Please go to http://CFMismyunion.ca (for a French version, visit http://FCMestmonsyndicat.ca) to learn what’s in our best interests. Consider with great care – for everyone’s sake – what is at stake. Please feel free to contact me by email with your thoughts on this complex issue.

Sincerely and fraternally,

a_willaert
Alan Willaert
Vice President from Canada, AFM

awillaert@afm.org