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

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

WORK DUES

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.

HOW DUES ARE USED

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.

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