The Recording Musicians AFM lawsuit far bigger than previously thought, California Primary June 3rd, Trivia, Member Comments and more.


Why is the RMA pretending to try to mend fences with
the AFM if their members are suing our parent organization?
How many of the RMA rank and file actually know this
is going on?

We have just received more court documents concerning
the Lawsuit filed by three RMA Members (DAVID
going after dues they claim are not due the FEDERATION.
It‚s not just about Video Games and wording hints at a
class action suit, not just those three recording musicians.

Here is a quote from:
Case 2:07-cv-07225-MMM-SS
Document 53

∑collecting certain union dues, known as „Federation Work
Dues,‰ in connection with the employment of Plaintiffs AND
Defendant Local 47∑



In case you thought this was just about the buyout Video Game
contracts, here is a list of the type of work they are stating
were done under promulgated agreements, and are therefore
wanting the dues back.

A) Video Game Agreement(s) (both as to „Option 1 and Option 2‰)
Effective Start Date of November 2006;
B) Video Game Agreements(s) (Previously in effect through
November 2006 and also continuing with Special Letters of
Agreement for sometime thereafter);
C) Basic Cable Agreement(s);
D) Telethon Agreement(s);
E) Syndicated Radio (Non-symphonic) Agreement(s);
F) Cruise Ship Agreements(s)
G) Industrial Films Agreement(s);
H) Basic Television Film Agreements (Independent Producers)
I) Basic Theatrical Motion Picture Agreement (Independent Producers):
J) Non-Standard Television Agreement(s) (Pay TV)
K) Motion Picture Documentary Agreement(s);
L) Festival Film Agreements
M) Parades, Spectaculars, Theme Park Agreements

Note many of the situations mentioned above state Œindependent‚
at the end. It seems about the only contracts they don‚t want
the money back for are those films done by the big studios,
which conveniently pay them the lion‚s share of their royalties.

Do you find this list as absurd as we do? Is any contract that
the RMA didn‚t control and/or create themselves illegitimate?


This is a full out frontal assault on our AFM, a federation
that has more often than not protected our rights as musicians
for over 112 years, and because: 200-300 recording musicians
want to keep their wallets fat on the back of a lost market for
everyone else; were not able to take over the Federation at the
last convention; and because of the vendetta one or more RMA
administration officials have for the current President, they are
ready, willing and trying to damage the AFM for the other 70.000+

The actions of these rogue members endangers the very
existence of the AFM and it‚s coming to the time when all
of us: rank and file, live, casual, teaching, orchestral, and
yes, even recording musicians will have to join forces
to protect our federation from the scorched earth policy of
these musicians.

The Local 47 officers should either defend the Federation that
has given them a living for so long and the musicians who pay
their salaries; or resign and go to work for those they‚ve been
doing the bidding of for years. At least that way those benefiting
from their real loyalties will be the ones paying them.


It’s also worth noting that because Local 47 has filed an “interpleading”,
that action puts them in effect AGAINST the AFM. Note the following
heading that now appears on the Federal Lawsuit:




So not only are the recording musicians above trying to damage
or destroy the AFM in court, it’s clear that the board of Local 47
has taken a position through the interpleading which is in
effect AGAINST the AFM. One can only wonder how much
damage the administration of Local 47, represented by an attorney
who as we previously reported is on the RMA ADVISORY BOARD
as well, is intent on causing the AFM while the Local 47 officers
bow to the recording musicians.

At a very minimum, Local 47’s choice to interplead and withhold
what may be HUGE sums of royalties will cause the AFM financial
harm. President Espinosa had a choice: side with the AFM (his
employer), or go against the AFM. We can only hope that his choice
doesn’t have disastrous consequences for us all. In any case, it’s
clear President Espinosa certainly can say he got his revenge for
the bitter loss he suffered last year at the convention election.


We also want to remind the whole federation of THESE Bylaws:

ARTICLE 5 Section 22(a)

The International President may suspend or remove from
office any Local Officer for: neglect of duty; or for interference
with or violation of any of the Bylaws or any Convention,
Presidential or IEB orders or directions or the purposes,
objects, or affairs of the AFM.

And also this one,∑

ARTICLE 5 – Section 71

Whenever the IEB has substantial reason to believe that
a Local or the Local’s Officers or members, are (1) acting
in violation of the AFM Bylaws, (2) disobeying a lawful
order of the Convention, the IEB, or the International
President, (3) mismanaging the Local’s financial affairs
or otherwise conducting the affairs in a fiscally unsound
manner, or (4) engaging in any activity or course of
conduct detrimental to the welfare or interests of the
AFM or the Local, the IEB may place the Local in


If the Officers of Local 47 continue on their current
course, we believe the Federation must take off the
gloves and hold them accountable for the damage
their hopelessly incompatible loyalties have done
to our Local and the Federation. It is a disgrace that
cannot and must not be tolerated.



Please don‚t forget to take part in the upcoming June 3rd
California primary! Your vote is important, don‚t waste it!



Established by artist Rodolphe Salis, Le Chat Noir (The Black
Cat) was the first musical cabaret in France. It was named
after a mythical French cat who mocked the platitudes of
the bourgeoisie and opened its doors in 1881. The venue‚s
early success was due largely to the mixing of piano music
with free verse and poetry, an activity that was prohibited
in France at the time. For many, Le Chat Noir encapsulated
the tradition of mocking the establishment and its values
through its rowdy and often profane activities.



The comments below and elsewhere in the mailing
represent the uncensored views of the readers and
not necessarily those of the COMMITTEE. In the faith
that freedom of expression allows for the birth and
ascendancy of the most beneficial ideas, all sentiments
expressed are welcome, subject to the bounds of good
taste and decorum. If you disagree with an opinion
expressed by any contributor, we encourage you to
rebut it here.


I was at the membership meeting a couple of weeks
ago. The recording musicians came to the meeting in
force, voted, and vanished. You can say they took part
in the democratic process. Or you can say that they
showed up to ensure their continued employment with
the orchestra of the chosen. Either way they voted the
way they were told and now they own the officers of the
local. Between the campaign literature that the recording
musicians were passing out at the door and the person
sitting behind me who said now who are we supposed
to vote for? – It couldn‚t be more clear. The recording
musicians have made a concerted effort over the years
to elect stooges who will do their bidding. Now they‚ve
got their wish.

One member stood up and asked the Secretary Treasurer
for a financial report. Leslie Lashinsky looked completely
shocked and said ŒOh things are fine and I love my job‚.
The member asked again for a real report and was told
Œwe‚ll have one for you next time.‚ Another member asked
President Espinosa about the local‚s budget. Espinosa
referred him to the financial report published in the Overture.
A former officer stood up in the audience to explain that
the financial report in the paper is last year‚s balance sheet.
A budget is the planned spending for the future. A whole
different animal. Why didn‚t our officers know that? And
Espinosa always finds a way to brag that he is running a
multimillion dollar corporation. Then VP Trombetta told
about how he is going to remodel the auditorium at a
cost of up to half a million dollars. Hope it will turn out
better than the ‘soundproofed’ rehearsal rooms. Did they
ever ask the membership for approval, or even have
discussion of this spending? Is the recording studio in
the auditorium going to be phased out the way they keep
trying to do with the referral service? I‚ve heard its‚ going
to be moved to the basement. Great acoustics there. For
the guys working on MIDI tracks maybe.

The referral service committee threw a meeting for
members input and nobody came. They can‚t
understand why, because it was advertised in the
Overture. And they had the nerve to give the members
attitude about it. Did you know about the meeting?
Would it have hurt to send an email blast for free to
the membership like they do for their pet projects?
Of course that would give the referral service too much
publicity, so why not send an email to only the members
registered in the referral service? Too easy. I think we
should form a committee to study the committee. And
spend another $80,000 to build another referral service
website that won‚t work either. And stop members from
getting jobs for another 4 years. Yeah that sounds reasonable.

There‚s a lot about our industry that‚s done with a wink
and a nod that can‚t be proven or traced. If your phone
stops ringing who do you complain to? I understand watching
your back and keeping your job. But there was a judge who
said I don‚t know what pornography is, but I know it when I
see it. At the union there‚s a whole lot of smut going on.
I see it.

The members seated around me at the meeting sat there
in stunned silence at the ignorance and arrogance of our
elected officials.


I don’t expect this or any union to work as my agent
and get me work. However, I don’t expect this or any
union to prevent me from working. I do expect this union
to work with employers toward bringing as much work as
possible to union musicians. This may require adapting to
current times and re-thinking how we do business.
Concessions will be necessary. No one wants to give up
perks they already have but by working less we already
are. When work diminishes completely there will be no
more perks.

Our administration needs to be thinking of our futures,
all of our futures. This is something we need to think
about when the next contract negotiations come up. I
think we should all have some input on this.


Committee, I found this entry on the AFM Blog very
useful for our present situation.

So you don’t want to talk about the #1 issue (Buyouts)
today with the AFM? OK, fine, let’s talk about “feeling

What you call “creepy” I call “evolution of a
union” beyond the 1970s beliefs that buyouts are evil
to today’s realities that everywhere in the world offers
a buyout for film work except for the AFM and it’s the
#1 reason work is leaving the AFM.

You seem to equate
a discussion of a union evolving beyond dated business
models with “dissing basic union concepts” – unless
you’re tied to the past with a ball and chain and want to
base your future on trying to tie employers and everybody
else to past, outdated business models with that same
ball and chain, there’s no justification to clinging to 1970s
era business models like special payments contracts for all

Beyond buyout issues is the reality that musicians today
function far more as independent businesspeople than they
do as “employees”. With most musicians not qualifying for
AFM health insurance (and Local 47 dragging its heels about
joining other Californai locals that already offer HMO/PPO
coverage that is available to all, in another apparent prostration
to the RMA), musicians (including myself) have independent
insurance policies (as in, self-employed). Musicians have to
pay for our own advertising and promotion, our own instruments,
our own transportation, and our own education (lessons, etc),
making us for practical purposes much closer to being self-
employed people than employees.

And no, I don’t want to have
another go-around with MTM about what technically constitutes
an employee, since MTM isn’t an accountant or an attorney and
neither am I. We’re talking about a practical application of the
word here.

My point is that as a self-employed person, I’m much
more interested in things like a referral service, marketing
assistance for my music/albums/etc, and things like that.
These are areas where the union could really help me and
people like me, vs. paternalistic treatment. But what does
Local 47/RMA do? Gut the referral service and fire the longtime
union employee (Barbara Markay) who had been assisting many
members with marketing their own music/CDs. 

The world isn’t
as simple as “labor” vs “business” any more. The lines are all
blurred now, as musicians function both as self-employed
businesspeople AND as employees of contractors. My point is
simply that the AFM can evolve beyond the paternalistic role of
the past and onto a more progressive partnering WITH members
to leverage the strength of the membership to create competitive
deals in the marketplace and serve a number of other functions to
assist members with their careers. 

But that requires taking a step
beyond the policies of the past and looking towards what works
for the future, taking into account the now world marketplace for
recorded music.

Not a Neocon


Well, given that the SF musicians are now doing more video
game work than LA musicians, according to Hal’s logic, the
SF musicians should be the ones making the rules for video
game agreements!

Who ever said the RMA represented all recording musicians?

What about all the symphony musicians around the country
that make
recordings every year? They are all “recording musicians” too
and most have nothing to do with the RMA. I doubt they
would support the RMA’s radical stance of “include special
payments or your can’t record your film score AFM”.


Next time, fun with the auditor‚s report!


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