Dear Local 47 Brothers and Sisters,

We’ve received several letters similar to this…
-Congrats on your success, you are an important part of the “democratic” process. My question is, what is this fi-core thing all about? Can you tell me where to find out about it?

If you read the most recent Overture, there is much discussion of this subject. Mr. Espinosa’s column holds a number of interesting omissions.

While most of what he says about Core Status is true, he leaves out that when a Core-Status musician does a union job they have the exact same rights as a Union musician, including H and W, Pension and secondary market funds. Mr. Espinosa also conveniently leaves out that while he mentions in his OVERTURE column the problems with the Guild, he doesn’t mention the Guild in his email blast.

Why does Mr. Espinosa ask members to let him know if the core-status folks contact them, but makes no request of those contacted by the Guild? Of course, when you have the Secretary Treasurer of the GUILD (Marc Sazer) also serving as the VP of the RMA, Web master of Local 47, the RMA, the Guild AND for Hal Espinosa during the last election, and also having that same person serving on the Hearing board of the Local, there may be a bit too much inbreeding to take effective action.

Indeed, at a recent New England conference, Mr. Espinosa not only defended the Guild and admitted one of the Guild’s officers holds a position at the Local, he said he would not take action against anyone involved in the Guild unless forced to by the National AFM. In fact he said something completely different in the recent Variety article about the Guild. Which side of his mouth will Mr. Espinosa speak out of next time?


Core Status has become a very hot topic lately. Our success at the meeting on April 23rd would not have been possible without enough full dues-paying members willing to come down and protect our voice.

Below we are listing the basic PROS and CONS of Core Status. Please keep in mind that the COMMITTEE in no way, shape or form encourages members to go core-status. We much prefer the membership uniting to improve our Local for every member, much as we have over the last year. And have fought to keep those improvements on several occasions as well. Without enough active full-status members, we cannot keep our voice protected. However, though not even the Committee was united on supplying this information, members deserve to be fully informed of all options available to them.


If one needed a one sentence description of what a core-status musician is, it would be: A non-union musician who pays dues to a Local so they can enjoy the benefits of Union membership when doing Union jobs.

Please read below for a more detailed description.

-You cannot attend meetings
– You cannot vote in Union elections.
-If the Local so chooses (this is something they can choose to do or not, federal law allows it.), you cannot use the building, facilities or member services.
-As a core status musician you cannot file contracts, including SELAs, but can be on the contracts of others.
-Should you become Core then wish to rejoin the Union, the Local can make it as easy or hard as they choose to.
-Your name will be removed from the Union Directory.
-You will be listed as resigned in one issue of the Overture.

Currently, member dues are approx. $192, approx. core dues are $170.

If you do not wish to contract or have a voice in the future of our Local, Core Status could be a consideration.

-You can do union or non-union jobs without fear of fines.
– When on a Union job you get health and welfare, pension and secondary market monies as before.
-Any pension fund monies, once deposited, stay in place even if the musician drops out of the union. That is, if the musician is vested, meaning that contributions have been made for 5 consecutive years, and you continue to add to it when you do Union jobs
-You will still draw and add to special payments as before when doing Union jobs.
-While the law says neither the Local nor any contractor can divulge that you are a core status musician, you cannot necessarily count on the Local’s discretion.

-A musician who drops out of the union (or is expelled for not paying dues) can rejoin within a year and not have to pay the $90 initiation fee. After a year you start again from scratch, though not in terms of Pension, Health and Welfare or Secondary Markets.
-It takes $600 of employer contributions to quality for the Local’s Health Insurance, and since on most gigs the H&W is 10% of wages, that means that a musician must perform $6000+ of union gigs to get health insurance.
-As long as you make your $6,000 in Union gigs, you can keep your health insurance, fi-core or not.



Recently, President Espinosa sent out an email blast about New Era Scoring, a company that intends to build a core status orchestra to bring back non-signatory work to Los Angeles (Oddly enough, he never put out a similar blast about the Guild.). At the link below you will find their rebuttal to Mr. Espinosa’s blast.




There are a couple of inaccuracies in New Era’s statement at the link above. We wanted to clarify them for you.

Firstly, if you choose core status, you are no longer a member of the AFM. You have resigned from the AFM and Local 47. There is no Core-Status membership as such. As a core status musician, you are a NON-UNION MUSICIAN who is paying for the rights and benefits of doing Union work.


Core Status dues is approx. 85%-87% of normal dues, however, the dues paid by Core Status musicians covers far more that Contract Negotiations and CBA’s. In fact, it covers absolutely everything normal dues does except political activity.

It does pay the portion of dues that goes to building upkeep and maintenance, support for member services, employee salaries, etc. It does not pay the portion of dues used to fund political parties, political causes or political candidates. While you are paying the dues that should enable you to use the rehearsal rooms and other services, Federal law allows the Local, if it chooses, to deny these rights as a discouragement to becoming a Core Status musician.

Once again the COMMITTEE does not encourage members to go core status. We much prefer the brotherhood of the Local benefit from the varied experiences of every professional musician.

We encourage the RMA, GUILD or LOCAL to write with rebuttals of whatever they feel is inaccurate or unfair in our mailings.


A recent pro-musician decision of the Copyright Royalty Board has sparked a lot of adverse press. Even worse, webcasters and broadcasters have instigated a “grass-roots” campaign urging music fans to complain to Congress about the decision. The purpose of this e-mail is to make sure that musicians are informed about the facts – and to ask you to send your own pro-musician message to your representatives in Washington!

The Background. The Copyright Act requires webcasters and broadcasters to pay royalties when they stream sound recordings on the internet. By law, 50% of the royalties for streaming go to performers. SoundExchange collects the royalties and pays 45% of them directly to individual featured performers. SoundExchange pays 5% (the share set by statute) to the AFM and AFTRA Fund for distribution to session musicians and vocalists. The remaining 50% goes to the sound recording copyright owner – which is usually a record label but in some cases is also the performer.


The judges heard 48 days of testimony and reviewed thousands of pages of evidence about the webcasting business and about the businesses of performers and record labels. AFM Vice President Harold Bradley and member Cathy Fink testified about the creative work musicians do in the recording process, and about how important this new income stream is to musicians. President Tom Lee testified about the ways SoundExchange works for musicians. And then the judges carefully considered all they had heard – and got it right. They wrote a careful, 115-page decision that acknowledged the value of musicians’ creative work and the importance of fairly compensating us when businesses use our product.


Although the webcasters and broadcasters presented a
complex and detailed case to the judges – and although the hearing process is one that they asked Congress to create – some don’t like the result and are seeking a Congressional override. This makes no sense. What is worse is that large (and wealthy) webcasters like AOL and Yahoo are hiding behind a few small webcasters who complain that as “small businesses,” they can’t afford to pay the royalties. Webcasters made similar complaints the last time rates were set in 2002 – and since then, webcaster revenues overall have jumped from $50 million to $500 million per year.

Performers Need to Be Paid for Use of Our Work. Most musicians need to patch together lots of income streams in order survive – including royalties for the use of our recordings. Please let Congress know how important this money is to musicians! Urge your representatives to resist the pressure to
override the rates set by the CRB.


A sample letter to your Representatives and Senators is
attached. Feel free to personalize the letter. For further information,


I had to stay home and watch two sick kids last minute – yuck
-why can’t we vote over the net? – c’mon the net is safe and very easy fella’s
-I wanted my vote to count for sure
-the quorum stuff should not come up again
-next meeting should be on how ALL PARTIES, large and small can put their heads together to get all the recording back in LA
– we are no longer the session capitol of the world anybody working enough on scoring sessions??
– if yes, my mistake then business as usual. Let’s see who shows up for that.


Thank God we won.


Thanks for the wonderful food last night before the meeting! I admit,
I planned on coming anyway.

I found myself tossing and turning last night…there was something
wrong with marc sazer’s oral proposal. The way the proposal was presented didn’t seem correct. This is an issue that needs to be in black
and white and pondered before we should vote on it. And when our
Illustrious officers silently debated amongst themselves
for several minutes, it was apparent they didn’t even know how to
properly proceed!
That moment last night reminded me of the stories my father would tell
of the time when he was a student in Berlin in the late 30s. And I thought we lived in a democracy today.
This proposal has got to be unconstitutional. For Marc to blatantly admit that the 6 delegates are corruptible is an insult to all past and future delegates!
He needs apologize to them all. Apparently, according to his
statements, we really should put safeguards in place to help prevent the Chairman from becoming corrupted (within our union
On a last note:
Please vote for me next time to be chairwoman of the delegates….I was
short on my mortgage last month!
Thanks for listening!


Boy it sure was a circus last night! Among
other things, we witnessed:

“Parliamentarian” with a slant:

– Our Executive Board, on OUR DIME, hired a “Parliamentarian” for the
A parliamentarian should be totally impartial.
However, this member wrote campaign statements for Espinosa in the Dec ’06 elections. Can he be impartial?
Though he holds a degree in Parliamentary procedure, he overlooked the
following violations of Roberts Rules of Order, coincidentally ALL
oversights that would have harmed the FMA agenda:

– he made no objection to member Jay Rosen very angrily slandering Harriet Katz by name over the mic, for her observation on Labor Law.
– he did not stop the “call for the question” on Resolution #2, even though
“ayes” and “nays” were 50/50, and there were clearly several members still waiting at the mic to speak.
– he did not stop Hal’s attempt to allow one vote to cover both “call for
the question” AND THE ACTUAL VOTE on the RMA’s “AFM Delegates must vote as a block – gag David Schubach” motion. (BTW, where was the spirit of ‘Democracy’ in that motion?)

We heartily suggest that we SAVE OUR MONEY on a Parliamentarian next time, as it was the membership protests that stopped these violations.


RMA runs away with Local #47 General Meeting:

– Late in the meeting, our GM turned into an RMA meeting as a “condemnation of AFM President Tom Lee” was quickly passed.
My take:
If RMA and President Hal Espinosa want to commit political circus stunts,
that’s their business.
But hiding behind Local #47’s skirts and dragging the rest of us into their
vitriol is an unfair reflection on the rest of the Membership.
This “condemnation” should have been addressed at an RMA meeting, not a Local #47 GM.

It shows the ongoing clear lack of negotiating skills that such a motion
would even be considered at all.
We as rank-and-file members are embarrassed and shocked that our Local #47 President would support such an indecorous action.

Sadly, RMA members are coerced into coming to GMs in fear of not being
called for future work if they don’t show up.
We, the rank-and-file show up of their own accord, on principle to support
what is right.


Lisa Haley stood near the end to condemn the maverick “Professional
Musicians Guild.”
This illegal organization is in violation of AFM Bylaws (Article 10, Section 3) by creating an illegal competing union in our jurisdiction, trying to take over Video Games negotiations, falsely claiming AFM approval, and creating a dangerous “slippery slope” example which other Union crafts may be tempted to follow.

This short-sighted, foolish move could well spell the end of Union strength
in America if allowed to continue.

Hal Espinosa’s only comment on the record was “IF this organization attempts to undermine Local #47 scale… I’ll take action.”
In another era, this official condoning of an anti-AFL-CIO entity would be
considered an impeachable offense.


OK – so the local is safe for now from the pirates

THE OBVIOUS – it is very important to stay a full voting member isn’t it?

Fi Core related – you will not be able to vote if you are Fi-Core
and therefore a meeting like last night with it’s resolutions would have gone to the pirates hijacking the ship

every vote counts and don’t think yours won’t be the one to sway a decision

over and out –



and thank you for your diligence.


I know this is planned to be discussed in an upcoming message to members, but listening to the response in the room at the last meeting (albeit by a mostly RMA majority) to the speech by Lewis Levy regarding the issue of “Financial Core Status” for union members, I felt a need to offer some clarification. First of all, I would like to mention that I am not a “Fi-Core” status union member, nor am I affiliated with the NES or PMG. Out of curiosity, I attended the NES open meeting, which was held to explore the issues concerning the reality of the L.A. recording scene and the options musicians have to find work. At the meeting, an attorney was present to answer all legal questions regarding Financial Core Status – and many questions were asked and answered in an unbiased manner. I say this because the attorney present addressed several of the topics Lewis Levy raised at the last meeting, however, unlike the biased speech made by Mr. Levy, at the NES meeting not all answers were favorable to Fi-Core Status or the NES, and some issues are still being litigated – pending resolution.

I don’t claim to have any legal expertise in this matter, but my understanding of the legal facts are that yes, a member who wishes to become “Financial-Core” status must technically resign from the AFM. However, what Lewis Levy did not tell you is that you are really just resigning from “full membership status” – i.e. you can do non-union work without fear of a $50,000 fine, but you can ALSO do union-contract work and receive full union benefits (health, pension, etc.) for any work you accept under a union contract. You are in no way prohibited from doing any work you would otherwise accept as a full union member. Mr. Levy tried to make sarcastic jokes about losing your rights as a “non-member” by taking Fi-Core status, and in so doing seemed to be making a lawyerly sales pitch, implying to members that they would be sacrificing all of their union contract work as a result.

Again, according to what I understand to be the legal facts, Fi-Core members pay all but a small percentage of their regular union dues and can make the change by mailing a one-page letter to the union, which makes the change to Fi-Core status immediate. Your membership status must legally be kept confidential to other members and contractors – and incidentally, that is why the NES has fought to keep the names of ‘resigning’ members out of the union paper and one reason why they want those names to remain in the membership directory. Or perhaps more to the point, maybe one reason why the board wants to publish those names and remove them from the directory is so that it will reveal who has changed status. While Mr. Levy’s argument that the union directory is not the sole source of employment is true, there is still ongoing litigation as to whether a Fi-Core member who pays all of their dues (except for the small portion that goes toward political budgets) should suffer any disadvantage when it comes to union-contract employment. It is true that members who become Fi-Core status cannot vote, run for office or attend meetings; and if they choose to re-apply for full-membership status at a later date, there is a possibility that they will be turned down. One other point made at the NES meeting was that the NES is not trying to take away union-contract work. They are merely trying to bring back the work that has already left L.A. and will not return. The board’s claim that organizations such as NES are lowering the pay-rate for recording musicians by competing with the union is a bit of a false argument, as that competition already exists by means of orchestras and recording musicians outside of Los Angeles – and has for some time. All NES is trying to do is to get back some of that work for those L.A. musicians who are now working at McDonald’s just to pay their bills.

So members should give this some thought – as to whether they want to remain as full-members and run the risk of severe fines for doing dark dates or not. In my opinion, remaining as a full-member should not be an intimidating proposition – musicians will always want to and NEED to find work, and if they cannot survive on union-contract work alone, then they should not be penalized for trying to pay their rent without changing professions. If the union can adjust its policies to reflect reality, all the better. But I’m not holding my breath.



There’s lots going on in the run-up to the Convention next month. We’ll be filling you in on all of it.

Until Next Time,


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