Recording Musicians Sue To Stop AFM Special Payments Work Dues

By • February 4, 2009

Three Los Angeles recording musicians have filed a federal lawsuit against the American Federation of Musicians alleging that the AFM has no right to impose a 2% work dues tax on approximately 1,000 musicians who earn more than $2,500 annually in special payments from the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund and the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund, which includes wages paid to musicians for reuse and new-use fees for music for film and television.

In the lawsuit, filed by Los Angeles recording musicians Rafael Rishik, Keith Green and Stephen Erdody, the musicians allege that the AFM has no right to impose work dues on special payments as they are not scale wages earned. The plaintiffs also allege that the special payments work dues represent a “discriminatory assessment against the highest-income members of the AFM” and allege that “the AFM expressed an intent to discriminate against the RMA [Recording Musicians Association] membership and has specifically threatened that if RMA members refuse to pay the new assessment, the AFM will renegotiate existing collective bargaining agreements which maintain the funds that pay [new use and reuse] distribution … for the retaliatory purpose of terminating such distributions.”

Click to download a copy of the lawsuit complaint from:

At the 2007 AFM Convention, the delegates adopted the new work dues on special payments which is at issue in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is only the most recent action taken by recording musicians in their battle with the AFM leadership which has focused on the recording musicians belief that they are not being given sufficient input or representation in AFM decisions that affect them.

Recording musicians have created a legal defense fund called Fareplay, and three recording musicians filed suit against the AFM and Local 47 in Los Angeles in November, 2007 in relation to one-off buyout recording agreements created by the AFM nationally for videogames and other media recording.

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