Recently, there have been discussions regarding our internal procedures relevant to processing claims against members. With this communication, we hope to clarify any confusion and to provide answers.
The American Federation of Musicians Local 47 is charged with many duties including, but not limited to, advocating for musicians through collective bargaining and contract enforcement, organizing, defending and protecting the rights of its membership. Specific to the issue at hand, the Local is duty-bound to enforce and to comply with the Bylaws.
The Bylaws are the “laws” that govern the conduct of the membership. The Bylaws were developed through a democratic procedure that included membership input and vote, and are intended to protect the integrity of the Local.
When developing the Bylaws, the membership decided that it wanted a procedure to address allegations of member misconduct. Accordingly, the membership adopted the language as set forth under Article XIV. The procedure under Article XIV is comprehensive and, most important, ensures full due process to all members. Specifically, the procedure provides the accused with notice of the particular allegations; a full and fair hearing before a neutral decision making body; the right to call and cross examine witnesses, to present evidence, to testify; and, the right to appeal.
Unfortunately, there may be times when a member is wrongfully accused of misconduct. We understand it is upsetting to be charged when you have done nothing wrong. The system is designed to not only expose those who have violated the bylaws, but to vindicate those who have not. Our system has recently been tested and it worked. A number of musicians were charged with breaking their commitment to follow the rules. For most of those charged, the process proved the claims to be accurate. For one of the charged members, due process revealed that the claims against them were not true. The charge was withdrawn and the member was informed in writing. For that individual, no hearing was convened, no fines were assessed, no reprimands were issued and no Union announcement was made identifying that person.
We must trust the process. The procedure provided by Article XIV reflects the will of the membership as to how you want to govern your Union. It is important to comply with all provisions of the Bylaws to not only ensure the Local’s credibility, but to avoid injustice, chaos and corruption.
As musicians, we’re not perfect. This is also true for those of us in leadership. We take our responsibility seriously. We inherited a strong Union from the musicians of the past, and we are determined to pass a strong Union on to the next generation of musicians.