AFTRA and AFM Unions Endorse New Teamsters Composers Union Efforts
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists [AFTRA] which represents vocalists and the American Federation of Musicians [AFM] which represents musicians have jointly endorsed the new composers union being organized with the Teamsters.
In a letter this week, AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Robergs Hedgpeth and AFM President Thomas Lee offered the support of their organizations to composers and lyricists, stating, “We support your efforts to assist composers and lyricists to organize through the Teamsters and your efforts to be recognized by the employers’ association.”
The union endorsements come on the heels of strong support by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in the form of an agreement letter approved by the WGA Executive Board on March 2 where the WGA supports composers’ stance against having to write music for free as a condition of auditioning for a job. The letter focuses on composers being asked to write music for free as a condition of a “bake-off” competition once a short list of composers has been identified for a project, and in clear and unequivocal language states that the WGA believes that “once writing at any level is seen as “free” it compromises writing on all levels.”
While the composers union has stated that they are pursuing a “benefits-only” approach with the television and motion picture producers, the AFTRA and AFM support opens the door for mutually beneficial agreements to be created between the composers union and organizations representing musicians and vocalists similar to the existing “no free music” agreement with the WGA. Future potential deals with music editors (a part of the IATSE trade union) and the newly established music supervisors association could create even more diversified industry support to help establish better workplace conditions for composers and eliminate unreasonable workplace demands, such as free music, on composers.