A Message from President John Acosta: Safer at Work

Musicians have suffered deeply as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Helping us get back to work while protecting your health and safety is our number one priority. Several top-level processes have launched in an effort to provide a pathway to reopening for the entertainment industries, and we are working around the clock for you. In a major step that ensures musicians will have a clear voice, I am pleased to report that I have been appointed to Los Angeles County’s new Economic Resiliency Task Force as a member of the Film and Digital Media sector. We are also working with our entertainment industry union allies to develop health and safety standards that can be used throughout California, and throughout the country.
Even as Los Angeles County officials began easing stay-home orders on May 8, the County task force met to start discussions on creating a plan to get the post-production economy back up and running amid the COVID-19 crisis and establish clear “safer at work” guidelines. Structured to advance the recovery of each economic sector, leaders representing more than a dozen sectors of the economy — ranging from arts and entertainment, small business and labor, to healthcare and education — are each working with a team to develop recommendations for the County Board of Supervisors.
With my appointment to this new task force, musicians are provided a direct line of communication with decision makers in an effort to ensure our unique concerns will be addressed throughout the process of creating new guidelines for health and safety regulations in the workplace. Additionally, our goal is to ensure that musicians will have direct access and insights into the timeline and implementation plan for the return of entertainment work.
Along with the Recording Musicians Association of Los Angeles board of directors we have formed a working group to facilitate discussions among a broad range of rank-and-file Local 47 musicians, engineers and technicians from scoring stages, music contractors, and union officials from other jurisdictions throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, particularly England and Germany. We are receiving valuable information from the AFM’s Player Conferences Council, which comprises officials from each of the five player conferences representing recording musicians (RMA), theater musicians (TMA), regional orchestral musicians (ROPA), and symphonic and operatic musicians in the United States (ICSOM) and Canada (OCSM).
This working group is gathering information to help the AFM both on the international and local levels to address the need for a consistent set of health and safety standards for musicians in all areas of the music industry. Initial discussions are focusing on creating specific standards for post-production in film and TV recording, and the AFM International has begun outreach to AMPTP to ensure that employers are on the same page. The next area of focus will be on establishing essential health and safety standards for musicians who work in live television and live performance.
Along with the working group, I am keeping an open dialogue with the AFL-CIO, California Labor Federation, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, and leaders from our sister entertainment guilds including SAG-AFTRA chief operating officer and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Motion Picture Editors Guild IATSE Local 700 National Executive Director Cathy Repola, and SAG-AFTRA Stunts and Safety Director Cedric Jackson. With assistance from the LA Fed we are also receiving guidance from UNAC/UHCP infectious disease specialist Larry Rick.
The AFM is also involved with the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee comprising members of entertainment guilds, unions and management members focused on establishing uniform and unified safety regulations industrywide. Last week leaders from 10 entertainment unions held a telephone press conference to share that they have been working together on plans to negotiate for a set of unified terms and conditions with employers that will ensure the health and safety of all entertainment workers. The panel included AFM International President Ray Hair along with heads of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Writers Guild of America (WGA) East, Directors Guild of America (DGA), Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 174, and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).
As this situation is fluid and evolving, myself, Local 47 and the AFM will continue to provide ongoing updates with you all. If you have questions or comments about these entertainment industry recovery efforts, please send me an email at john.acosta@afm47.org.

In Unity,
John Acosta
President, AFM Local 47