What Am I Paying For, Anyway?

A primer on AFM Local 47 membership dues and work dues

The difference between Union membership dues and work dues is an elusive concept to many working people, and musicians are no exception. Our offices field calls every day from members and non-members alike who ask, “What is this dues invoice I got in the mail?”

First and foremost, know that our union’s operating monies come from two sources: Membership Dues and Work Dues. Here’s a primer on the difference, and how they are used to the benefit of all members:


Membership Dues are required of the entire active membership. Dues are billed to each member annually or semi-annually. Members who opt to pay annually must renew by January 1 of each year. Those who pay Semi-Annually, or twice a year, must renew every January 1 and July 1.

As allowed by the provisions of federal law, except in right-to-work (for less) states, all persons performing under an AFM contract are required to join the union and remain a member in good standing as a condition of their continued employment. Local 47 members are required to pay a one-time initiation fee of $140 ($65 to AFM International, and $75 to Local 47). All new members are protected by the provisions of the contract immediately.

Every member is responsible for ensuring that AFM Local 47 has his or her current address and that he Union receives dues payments promptly. Failure to pay dues in a timely manner will result in suspension. To reinstate to good-standing status, members must pay all dues and fees owed at the time of reinstatement, plus a $75 reinstatement fee.

  • Paying your dues keeps you in good standing and qualifies you to:
  • Work under an AFM contract
  • Participate in negotiations of the collective bargaining agreements that will determine your compensation and working conditions
  • Vote for the national and local area officers that will represent you
  • Have a voice in the union, its governance structure, and its policies
  • Receive the wide array of members-only benefits available to union members through the Relief Fund, the AFL-CIO’s Union Plus Program, the SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union, and various other vendors


Whenever you perform a Union job, you pay a small percentage of the minimum wage for that job in work dues, typically 3% to 5.1% depending on the contract. Scale wages are the minimum wages agreed to between the employer and the union in a collective bargaining agreement. Local 47 contracts do not prevent musicians from negotiating wages which are higher than the minimum scale. For live performance jobs, your employer may automatically deduct Work Dues from your wages (check-off work dues) once you have signed a Dues Authorization Check-off card and given it to your union representative.

Every Local in the AFM sets its own Annual Membership and Work Dues rates. Musicians who belong to Local 47 but who work outside the Local’s jurisdiction may be subject to a Work Dues payment to the Local in the jurisdiction in which they are engaged. You may receive a Work Dues bill from said Local, and are obligated by the Constitution of the AFM to pay any such bill or risk being expelled from the union.


The privileges and protections derived from working under an AFM contract carry with them the obligation to pay dues in a timely manner. Work dues are used to provide collective bargaining representation and related services to AFM members and to any musicians working under Union agreements. These services include:

  • The negotiation of collective bargaining agreements that protect the wages, hours and working conditions of professional musicians
  • The enforcement of those contractual provisions and protections, and members’ other legal rights through the grievance process and through litigation in arbitrations, governmental agencies and the State and Federal courts
  • The employment and retention of a highly trained professional staff to administer those contracts and to provide related services to members, and to comply with all federal and state laws regulating labor unions
  • The education and training of elected union officers, delegates, members of negotiating committees and the general membership in the collective bargaining process
  • All related services necessary to protect the livelihood and welfare of the membership

If you have questions about any type of dues, please feel welcome to contact our Membership/Dues Department. Our friendly staff is happy to help answer any questions or concerns you may have! Please call 323.993.3116 or send an email to dues@afm47.org.

SAG-AFTRA Rally for Performers’ Rights


When: Wednesday, Jan. 23
11-11:45 a.m. – Sign-in & Welcome
11:45 a.m. – March to the La Brea Tar Pits (with AFM Local 47 drumline!)
Noon-1 p.m. – Rally & Speakers on ‘The Great Lawn’

Where: SAG-AFTRA Plaza, James Cagney Boardroom
5757 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Parking validated, enter off Curson or Masselin

RSVP@afm47.org Continue reading

3rd Annual Women’s March LA

Women’s March Los Angeles Foundation is a women-led non-profit 501(c)(3) organization created in 2016 by the producers of the historic Women’s March LA, whose mission is to bring attention to the struggles of marginalized communities and all attacks on human rights.

To march with Musicians, email RSVP@afm47.org for meetup information. Continue reading

Statement in support of UTLA from AFM Local 47

LOS ANGELES (January 14, 2019) — American Federation of Musicians Local 47 proudly stands with the thousands of brave workers who are striking for our communities, our families and our children.

Members of the United Teachers Los Angeles union are taking a stand to be treated with dignity and respect. The Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest in the country, yet our schools are painfully underfunded, understaffed, and overcrowded. Continue reading

Musicians support UTLA teachers!

Statement in Support of UTLA from AFM Local 47

The teachers of LAUSD are fighting for the schools our students deserve. They want to lower class sizes across all grades. They need more resources in our classrooms and to improve school safety. They want to have more instructional time and fewer standardized tests.

But the DISTRICT is saying NO to all of these demands.

Our teachers alone cannot bring about a better future for our kids. If an agreement is not reached, UTLA teachers are prepared to strike January 14. Continue reading

Musicians Helping Musicians

Months of hard work in physical therapy paid off, allowing Kevin Brandon (“Brandino”) to say goodbye to his wheelchair and move around on foot with the aid of a walker. “I can walk now because of Kaiser Permanente,” Brandon says.

Member-led health education committee strives to serve those in need

Known professionally as Brandino, bassist extraordinaire Kevin Brandon has enjoyed a long and varied career full of successes.

But it didn’t come easy.

Born with congenital clubfeet and a hip displacement, Brandon has used his musical successes to support those with handicaps and special needs. He has long made it a primary mission in his life to spread awareness and assist with fundraisers in order to inspire and help those in need to acquire information and access resources to improve their quality of life. Continue reading

January 2019 Overture Online: Back in the Game 🎮

AFM hits reset button on Video Game Agreement

AFM Local 47 2018 Election Returns
Congratulations to our newly elected union officials!

The Virtual Orchestra – 30 Years Later
An overview from TMA SoCal

Musicians Helping Musicians
Member-led health education committee strives to serve those in need

and more!

Download the FREE App:

Overture Online is optimized for reading via smartphone or tablet. For those without access to a smart device, issues may be viewed on a web browser here. Local 47 members may download archived pdf versions from the members section at afm47.org.

In Memoriam: January 2019

Mickey Wayne Jones
Life Member. Drums
6/10/1941 – 2/7/2018
Survived by spouse & children

Sidney M. Lazar
Life Member. Trumpet
8/2/1926 – 11/3/2018
Survived by spouse & children

Cecil J. (“Big J”) McNeely
Life Member. Saxophone
4/29/1927 – 9/16/2018
Survived by daughters & family

Roger L. Neumann
Life Member. Saxophone
1/3/1941 – 11/28/2018
Survived by spouse & children

Laura J. Pearson
Member. Viola
5/16/1984 – 10/2/2018
Survived by spouse & child