MEETING NOTES/MEMBERS’ PARTY/TRIVIA/COMMENTS

The Meeting on April 28th, other notes from the meeting, building a Member’s Party, trivia, comments and more.

I. THE MEETING ON APRIL 28th
II. OTHER NOTES FROM THE MEETING
III. BUILDING A MEMBERS’ PARTY
IV. TRIVIA
V. COMMENTS

============

GREETINGS COLLEAGUES!

I. THE MEETING ON APRIL 28th
Our recent general membership meeting showed that Democracy
is alive and well in our Local. Far, far more alive than when the
COMMITTEE was formed (We hadn’t had meetings in over 2 years).
It also showed that whoever has the bodies has the votes. This is
not unique and every organization can say the same, as long as
its the MEMBERS who make the decisions and not the board,
we’re far more satisfied.

Though the outcomes are sometimes not what we would like, the
point here is that at least its the MEMBERS making the choice at a
meeting and not a compliant board acting as an agent for a special
interest group. At least it is REAL Democracy, and we thank the
members who came for showing up and taking part.

The election board, as always, did a superior job. Long time
election board members Michele Byrne, Ernie Ehrhardt and
Luz Brisano, and Len Bergentino were unseated, having been
under fire and harassed by the Executive Board for some time.
Why? Because they would do their job in a non-partisan fashion,
follow the bylaws and not let themselves be bullied by the
Board or anyone else.

Now, we have an election board that includes people who have
shown honesty and integrity (Marcy Vaj and Brian O’Connor)
and the remainder being unknown. We will keep a close eye on
them and try to make sure no undue pressure is placed on them
by the board and/or the counsel.

THE PART MOST WORTHY OF REPEATING

When Michelle Byrne gave her 3+ minute speech for the
Election Committee election, she choose to expose just some
of the attacks her career has suffered at the hands of the present
administration. She shared in great detail what has happened to
her career, the frivolous charges filed against her by the Local,
the harassment at her jobs, the loss of work, in her estimation
partly because of her activism and daring to speak up.
We hope she will commit her experiences to writing and allow
us to share them with you, giving the Espinosa Administration
a chance to respond.

We also want to know of anyone else’s stories of harassment
by our Local.

==============

II. OTHER NOTES FROM THE MEETING

Below are some of our observations of the meeting. First however,
we want to share an excerpt of the FMA mailing about the meeting.
So as not to cover the same ground twice, where necessary we
will interject our thoughts in Brackets [].

General Meeting notes from the FMA:

– President Hal Espinosa told us there will be an elevator added
to the back of the auditorium during the upcoming remodel, to
accommodate those who have trouble negotiating the stairs to
the Musicians Credit Union.

—-

– When it was Secretary Leslie’s turn to give a report, she quietly
said she didn’t have one!

A Member stood and asked Leslie why she had no Secretary’s Report, when
Bylaws state there MUST be a Secretary’s Report at a General Meeting.
Leslie gave a 20-second report. A lot of Members were grumbling.

Perhaps it is time that we all call for Leslie to do the job we are paying
her to do, instead of allowing her continuing performance schedule to
prevent her from fulfilling her oath to serve the Members.

If Leslie wants to continue to make a living performing, we can all relate
to that and we wish her well in it.

But Secretary/Treasurer is a full-time, $50,000 a year job. She can’t realistically
continue to give us a part-time effort. Leslie should give us our money’s worth,
or step down and let someone else do so!

[We could not agree more. Her only possible argument for continuing to work
so much is that while she is the Secretary, she is only Secretary until the
December election, at which point she may lose the position. Still, with the
money she is now being paid by our Local from our dues and considering how
many players that are out there trying to make a living as a bassoonist,
she could at least take a leave from some of these jobs until the election.

She’s being paid handsomely for her work at the Local. If she wants to be the
Secretary part-time, her salary should be adjusted accordingly.]

—-

In Hal’s report, he stated:
“This is a multi-million dollar business that we’re running.” He described
how the negotiations w/Pasadena Pops were done.

[All the more reason for a real Secretary/Treasurer report four times a
YEAR at our meetings!]

—-

A Member asked how to get the #47 Financial Report.
Secretary Leslie said it was printed in the Overture. He asked about the
FULL report.
She stated “all he had to do was ask for it.”

Another Member got up and stated that the past four years in a row, the
FMA-L.A. had asked for this report, and that:
– first the Secretary claimed it didn’t exist,
– then she said she didn’t have to give it to us,
– then we went to a EB meeting and quoted Bylaws,
– then she finally made us come into the building to pick it up.

[Two different Secretaries, same games. Who was counseling them on the
actions to take?… and whomever they are, don’t WE pay their salary?]

This Member advised the other Member that when he asked for the full
Financials, he should have the Bylaws in hand.

President Hal then stated, “We thought you wanted sensitive information,
which we could not give you. When we realized you just wanted the report,
we gave it to you.”

The Member replied, “That would have been a reasonable concern for year one.
But why did you continue to resist complying with Members’ requests (and the
Bylaws) in years two, three and four?”

[Bingo. For the past four years, member Charles Fernandez tells
us, he has had to go through five or six email exchanges,
ultimately having to threaten charges against whomever has
been in the Secretary’s office to get the full report. The only
exception was this year, because Mr. Fernandez preemptively
told Secretary Lashinsky that if he got any delaying tactics at all,
he would file charges immediately. He got the report.]

——

A Member stated that there are two lawsuits in progress:

– Fi-Core lawsuit (Attorney Lewis Levy interjected that it
wasn’t a lawsuit, it was “under advisement.”)

– A Class action suit also brought by Fi-Core musicians – SRB
has it “under advisement.”

Levy said, “we are waiting to elect a new President in Nov who i
sn’t “Pro-Right To Work.”

[Is our counsel really saying he’s delaying lawsuits because he hopes a new US
President will improve the Local’s chances of getting away with their actions?
If the next president is “Pro-Right to Work”, will they delay another four years?
What an absurd thing for him to say. Once again we fine the counsel insulting
the intelligence of the membership.]

If our Local #47 officials had the negotiating and leadership skills to
strike a realistic, 21st Century deal with such entities as Video producers
and New Era Scoring, instead of clinging to the hope that all the “runaway
production” is somehow going to come back, we wouldn’t have any Fi-Core
musicians at present.

[Lest anyone forget, fi-core musicians pay approx. 87% of the dues we members
pay. And as the FMA points out above, if this administration were looking out
for the interests of all the members, there would have been no need for most of
those former AFM members to go fi-core. The Espinosa Administration’s shoddy
treatment of the rank and file caused the exodus to begin with, and now they try to
blame others for it? Nice…]

We noticed several Members who re-joined our Local for the General Meeting.
Thank you for returning, and let’s work together to get everyone working!

Regards,
FMA-L.A.

[This report was complete, and Bravo to the FMA for making it such a
candid one. We only want to add that the name of the Referral Service
Committee was changed to the Referral Service Taskforce but no change was
made to the duties of the group, so why was the name change? ]

============

III. BUILDING A MEMBERS’ PARTY

A recent comment to the COMMITTEE read in part:
Can we all – (woops – did I say that? -never going to be all)
can the concerned people ready to make a positive change
in their careers with ideas to bring back work start meeting??

The rank and file already have an organization that is established
and recognized, the Freelance Musicians Association! This
should be our vehicle to unite and continue protecting our interests.
In Local 802, they have TWO members’ parties. The FMA can
certainly serve this purpose for Local 47, but you need to get
involved.
Contact the FMA at [email protected], join up, and make
a difference!

==============

IV. TRIVIA: The ‘Catalogue’ Aria

The ‘Catalogue’ aria is the nickname given to Leporella’s
aria in Act 1, Scene 2 of Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’, in which
he recounts a list of Don Giovanni’s sexual conquests.

They are…
Italy – 640
Germany – 231
France – 100
Turkey – 91
Spain – 1,003

Total – 2,065

==============

V. COMMENTS:
The comments below 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.

——————

Again, the Espinosa Administration has shown it is a disgrace. And
cowards. Three RMA members file a highly questionable lawsuit –
with the potential of it becoming a class action suit — against the AFM,
and the Espinosa Administration’s response? Interpleading. Nominal
“neutrality” on this issue in fact inures to the benefit of the plaintiffs.
This is a betrayal.
This lawsuit is a threat to the stability of the AFM making Local 47’s
craven response an abdication of its fiduciary responsibility to its
membership. This should not be acceptable to anyone.
And it is intellectually dishonest. The Espinosa Administration is,
as usual, representing RMA interests, and I suspect it is privately
happy about this lawsuit due to its resentments and antipathy toward
the national AFM. So how does Local 47’s response serve its non-
RMA rank-and-file? It doesn’t. The opposite is true; you are being
used.
And how to explain the complacency of the rank-and-file except to
point out what is increasingly apparent? The membership is either
out of touch, incapable of critical thinking, or so habitually sycophantic
that it has lost its ability to be anything other than drones. How do
you all like the emperor’s new clothes?
So which is the larger calamity, an administration that betrays its own
members or a membership that tolerates it?
Rick Blanc (please attach name)

————-

I thought all those nice things people said about Paul are only
saved for a eulogy. You know where the rules say “never speak
ill of the dead”. Wow I cannot believe the poetic waxing.

As for those people that sit in the ivory tower with Paul…..they
Already know what kind of person he is, and when they protest,
(when he turns on them), he will look at them and say…”Hey,
you knew who I was when you picked me up!!”

I also overheard a board member saying that “You will never win”
Because you don’t have the votes. Further, that THEY ARE THE
MUSIC BUSINESS. By implication, THEY have decided that
unless we are THEM, we are not in the Music Business. Evidently,
they believe that any contribution by the FMA, is by default
somehow (potentially) taking away from them. It is only a few
leading that flock, and only a minority of RMA members even
know what is going on. Case in point, someone sitting behind me
asked, what we were here to vote on, and how long did she have to
stay?

This Union has a duty of fair representation. I would argue that
under the current conditions, that fair representation is impossible
due to the domination of one group and the lack of will and backbone
by our Elected officers to do their duty. It really is time to investigate
getting some federal oversight into our Union. Lewis will need to be
holding onto his B****.

We have had nothing but lip service for the RS for the last
Several years. Still, nothing is viable there. Thousands of dollars
and excuses and years later, and all we get is that it is a work in
progress. Now they want a LED sign outside the building. Yikes.
I suppose Marc will be the SignMeister on this effort too!

————

In every other Union or Guild organization I belong to, voting
is done by a mailed ballot to full membership along with a return
pre-addressed envelope to an independent auditor. Why is this
not done by Local 47 for their elections? It would increase and
encourage voter participation as many simply cannot show up in
person for personal or professional reasons, and it would ensure
a vote that is free from tampering. It is precisely why all other
entertainment guilds and trade unions conduct their elections
in this manner. Why is it that I don’t trust a process where I simply
put a piece of paper in a cardboard box without much oversight or
accountability?

The fact that a Local 47 election is local vs. national would make
such a process even simpler, one would think. As is done with
other Unions, candidates could include individual picture/bio/
candidate statements with the mailed ballots to help members
make an informed choice. Or would our Local whine about postage
and auditor expenses, as a prohibitive excuse? If not a mail-in vote,
why not alternatively offer at least a no-overhead internet voting
option that could still be independently processed? I’m sure I’m
not the first member who has made suggestions of this sort.

But elections are only representative of a larger problem I see with
our Union. Why is it that in so many aspects, the Union I pay the
highest annual dues to delivers the lowest amount of quality and
service? For instance, just look at the antiquated ratty old newspaper
they offer up as a suitable format for membership communication,
compared against the nicely bound, high quality well-published
magazines offered by their sister unions. That may seem trivial
to some, but we should not underestimate a Union publication’s
profound importance on industry perception. Other Unions recognize
that the image a Union/Guild/Society presents to the public and to
their membership has a direct correlation to active and proactive
membership participation and pride taken in their Union. For
most members, the publication is the only face of the Union, and
most certainly to those in the industry outside of the Union. So
when they see how K-Mart the Union operates, it undermines the
Union’s respectability throughout the industry, looks weak, and
bears an influence on its credibility and power to negotiate.
I’d sooner prefer the Union put out something more serious,
classier, and nicer-looking, color photos, etc. only as a quarterly,
(whether nationally or locally).

As it is, the publication is frankly not only an aesthetic
embarrassment, but also in much of its content. I don’t know
any other trade union/guild publication that feels the need to
publish the rather mundane procedural minutes of their meetings,
complete with the public humiliation of exposing members who’ve
let work dues lapse, who’s getting fined, suspended, or otherwise.
I also find some of these continual columns about “how to behave
on gigs”, or “how to hustle for jobs” somewhat belittling of it’s
readership, who are, after all, supposedly professionals, and not
neophytes who need to have their hand held like a child. It only
perpetuates the perception that musicians are basically dumb and
shiftless, and just like to “bang on de drums all day.”

Sorry. I didn’t plan on this turning into a whole diatribe. But
whenever I see these election results, it just makes our Union
feel like one big joke. How can this Union really be taken
seriously with such a lack of innovative business structure,
poor image, and apathetic membership, due to what I see as
misplaced priorities by our leadership? I realize I preach to
the choir, but thanks for indulging me. You may forward this
to other members if you like.

————

To the Committee,

On Monday, May 5th I will be attending a hearing at our Local.
Since September, 2007 I have been trying to get a copy of a letter
read in an open board meeting on August 15, 2006 written by
Paul Castillo concerning comments made by VP Trombetta at
the July, 2006 membership meeting.

Secretary Lashinsky has steadfastly refused the request. The
Secretary has been so intractable that I was forced to file
charges against her. Thus, the hearing is this Monday.

It is a matter of principal. Doing the right thing is not that hard,
yet these officers continue to prefer to fight perfectly appropriate
requests rather than follow the bylaws, as anyone who has requested
the full auditor’s financial report can attest.

What’s the real issue here? Getting our administration to obey
the bylaws.

I will forward the results to the committee so they can inform
you if they like.

Fraternally,
Charles Fernandez
Local 47 Member since 1983

—————

My Dear Colleagues,

In the AFM, we are a UNION. We are supposed to disagree
on many of these issues that are on the table in LA. Plus, we
are supposed to argue and have different opinions and fight
for what we believe in. But, we also know enough to show
respect to those who have differing opinions and are willing
to stand up for what they believe. That is true democracy!

As a union, we must agree to follow our bylaws or change
them. Period. No grey areas accept where the state or fed
laws require it…ie right to work issues. Unfortunately for
those who disagree, we can not pick and choose the bylaws
that we will decide to uphold. That is selfish, against the
unions best interest and ultimately leads to anarchy.

Although we live in a country that is supposed to support
the idea of workers protection and unionism, our fine
US government is allowing the businesses of our country
and, in fact, the corporations of the world to steam roll
our rights as workers and union members. Thereby, we are
left to try to pick up the pieces of a broadcast and recording
industry that lives by vastly different laws in different
countries and tries to make absurd profits on the backs of
the creative talent that provides for the very entertainment
they sell!

Oh aren’t all these business interests happy campers to
hear what divisiveness they have CREATED in the unions.
With their constant search for higher profits for their board
members stocks, race to the bottom for wages and sacrifice
of quality for that mighty profit margin, how could they
support the ‘workers’ right to a fair days wage for a fair days
work!!!

We have to be smart enough to realize that we are standing
in a circle and shooting at a target in the middle that is constantly
moving out of the way and leaving our valuable colleagues as
the actual targets! Otherwise, we will kill off the very membership
that makes us so strong and successful in the first place.

My2cents,
Richard Sparrow

—————-

[Concerning the title of our mailing on the results of
April 28th’s elections]

April, I think, not October.

————-

from the net:
In a class action for money damages, lawyers who represent the
class are generally paid out of the money that’s recovered – called
a “common fund” – for the people they are representing. In class
actions involving declaratory judgments or injunctive relief, lawyers
may be paid by the people who hired them, or in some cases, by the
people or companies they are suing.

Attorney’s fee awards are subject to court review and approval.
Ordinarily, if an award is made in a common fund case, it will
be awarded as a percentage of the total money available for the
class. A benchmark award generally accepted by the courts is
approximately 25 percent of the total, although the award may
be adjusted higher or lower, depending on the specific facts of
a case.

—————-

At the recent meeting, Marcy Vaj shocked me by making a Motion
right at the end of the meeting that the Member Services Committee
be renamed ‘ Referral Service Taskforce.’The reason? She is
personally tired of having to deal with the Referral Service plus the
CD&Radio Airplay Dept, etc. and wants only to deal with the RS.
If she feels that way, she should step down from the Chair and
let someone more enthusiastic have a turn!

————

Who is in this committee? It is always signed: The Committee
Why don’t you all make yourselves be known if there are so
many of you feel this way.

————–

“FYI, you need to sign in now to see the Overture online. You
didn’t previously to have to do that. Maybe the committee can
have .pdf versions available to email upon request, for those
that no longer have access.”

There is nothing strange about having to sign in to see a newspaper
that is for members only. Why join if you can get it for free. It’s a
benefit of membership. All memberships are done like this. Do you
people not have a life other than these insane response e-mails. Why
don’t you just drop out of the union, if you think it is so bad.

=============

Colleagues,

It is time the rank and file become more formally organized.
Please contact the FMA and get involved!

Until next time,

THE COMMITTEE FOR A MORE RESPONSIBLE LOCAL 47

9 Responses to “MEETING NOTES/MEMBERS’ PARTY/TRIVIA/COMMENTS”

  1. Anonymous says:

    FYI all the Secretary/Treasurer of Local 47 makes a lot more than $50,000 a year. Both the VP and S/T make, I believe, at least $75,000 a year. I believe it is stated in the bylaws.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Strike ‘all’

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