Saturday, January 10, 2009

One Thing Leads to Another

The lawsuit, Parmeter v. AFM, continues. Robert Levine reports on the AFM's extensive subpoena; the COMMITTEE still hopes for the RMA's crucifixion; and the AFM, already close to the poorhouse, has marshaled a few more lawyers. But how did this all start?

Convention 2007 is the turning point. There, with choreography that would make Nijinsky look like Homer Simpson, Tom Lee succeeded in bailing out the Montreal local, which had not paid its dues. If Tom Lee had not been so crafty, this particular lawsuit could not exist. The delegates would have unwittingly saved Tom Lee from himself.

But how? Tom Lee had an agenda for Convention 2007, which included a new two percent "work dues" that anyone who was paid from "supplemental market funds" — particularly recording musicians — must fork over to the AFM. The vote for this new bylaw was simply not there — at least, not in the United States. However, Tom Lee saw that Canada could be persuaded, and the key to that persuasion was a topic of local interest to Canada — the large, but faltering Montreal local.

Tom Lee wrote an email about a month before the Convention, documenting his preferred series of events to seat the Montreal local. In the finale of his machinations, the delegates of the bankrupt Montreal local would heroically "receive a rousing round of applause as they stand up and walk to the Canadian delegation's table — maybe even a standing ovation." Though the issue was slightly more controversial than Tom Lee predicted, he had his way in the end, and the Montreal local was seated.

But what does the Montreal local have to do with the lawsuit? Now that they were seated, they had a vote. And seating their "Canadian brothers and sisters" created a lot of goodwill with the entire Canadian delegation. Even if Tom Lee's agenda did not have the votes in the United States, the Canadian delegation, with over 14,000 votes, would be more than enough to win the day.

American delegates voted against Tom Lee's new two percent "work dues" package by a narrow margin. But 97% of Canadians voted for it, and it passed. And that two percent "work dues" package is the crux of Parmeter v. AFM. If Tom Lee had not bought the Canadian votes, the delegates would have voted against the "work dues" package and Parmeter v. AFM could not exist.

But because Tom Lee got what he wanted that day, Parmeter v. AFM does exist. Before this lawsuit, the AFM's single largest expense, at over a million dollars a year, was legal fees. If you thought that was a lot, wait until the bill for Parmeter v. AFM comes due.

And that bill is brought to you courtesy of Tom Lee, when he played Convention 2007 like a violin.

1 comment:

MichaelComins said...

There is a long history of a "wink and a nod" in the enforcement of AFM media contracts in Canada. This generally buys the incumbent AFM president votes at the convention. The seating of the Montreal local at the '07 convention was just a further variation on an old theme.