What a shockingly crazy few weeks! Our industry, our union, our members and families, staff and employers, colleagues here at home and around the world — all of our lives disrupted. Our gigs canceled, our concerts postponed, our schools closed and all around us fear and anxiety of what may come. Who would have known that when we wished “Happy New Year!” at 12 midnight of 2020 we would be here in March, quarantined in our homes because of a deadly virus that has attacked countries around the world and now begins to make its way through our society.
While many of the cancellations and postponements that have taken place are covered under the “Force Majeure” clause of our agreements, we will seek to engage with your employers to continue to pay your wages where possible, and at the very minimum that the employers pay your Health & Welfare benefits for services canceled. Additionally, working with the Local 47 Relief Fund and the Music Fund of Los Angeles we have set up these emergency funds to assist members who have lost income. Later this month I will be meeting with the Local 47 H&W Fund Trustees and will seek an extension on payments of premiums and look at ways we can continue benefits for those who may fall short of qualifying. We have been in communication with the California Unemployment Office and have been able to confirm that our members will be able to file for Unemployment Benefits for services canceled. Also, we are working with The Actors Fund and the AFM Petrillo Fund so our members who face difficulty in paying their bills will be able to apply for assistance during this crisis. Finally, the Local 47 Executive Board has approved a moratorium on late fees and penalties on work dues, and due to bylaw restrictions we are seeking guidance from counsel and the AFM on our ability to extend the deadline on payment of membership dues.
We continue to operate and stay open. While our rehearsal rooms have been closed down, and in-person meetings moved to conference calls and emails, we will continue to deliver the critical services to our members to ensure that your checks go out, benefits get processed and questions get answered. We have asked those staff members that can work from home to do so, while ensuring that each department is covered.
These are difficult times, but we must not lose hope or give into fear. Our union created in 1897 by brave women and men for the benefit of musicians, their families and their craft will not fail. We have survived WWI and WWII, the Great Depression, the Vietnam War, crisis after crisis your union, of and for musicians has survived great challenges and we will survive this. Soon rehearsals will begin, concerts will be rescheduled, shows will be booked and your calendar will begin to be full again. The bustle of the city will begin anew, restaurants will reopen, and all this will seem like a distant fantasy. I suggest we use this time to hone our craft, reconnect with the people in the world that are important to us, and practice acts of kindness and grace. Let’s use this time to slow down and appreciate our health, our families and the many blessings we have and remember that there is always a new day. Know that your union is here for you as we have always been for over 123 years.
President, AFM Local 47
Please visit our COVID-19 Resources page at afm47.org/covid19.