Monday, July 14, 2014

Are we in the real estate business or the music business?

According to President Ray Hair's message in the June 2014 International Musician, relocating the AFM New York office has been an ongoing discussion since 1988. Thanks in part to the 99th Convention's $1.2 million annual dues increase, it now seems to be the AFM’s top priority.

President Hair tells stories of real estate purchases by Local 802 and Local 72-147 in the past few decades, saying that any investment by AFM will appreciate and succeed similarly.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires this disclaimer on investment advertising: "Past performance does not predict future results." We should remember this when considering the investment being discussed here.

For example, what evidence exists that the AFM's proposed investment is so deflated in price that it will appreciate similarly to President Hair's examples? How do we know that its mortgage interest, up-front costs, condo fees, and maintenance are appropriate given the AFM's cash flow and treasury?

Rumors persist that President Hair and Secretary Folio have already entered into a purchase and sale agreement, on an empty office-condo property which is encumbered by a lien and needs major renovations. This is a high risk purchase.

I respectfully ask President Hair and Secretary Folio to provide real information (such as price, terms and conditions, etc.) to the AFM membership, rather than salesmanship for a high-risk investment by a union still in serious crisis.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What's In It For Us?

At Convention 2013, the per capita payment was increased by $10 per AFM member.

Here is what AFM intends to do with the money:

$650,000: AFM relocation fund

$100,000: Canadian international representative (IR)

$100,000: Reinstate IR travel

$350,000: Re-establish staffing levels

$100,000: Create a payroll service

$100,000: Legal compliance

$100,000: Organizing and recruitment efforts

Total: $1,500,000

Based on an estimate of 75,000 AFM members, $10 per member amounts to $750,000. So the above budget represents two years’ worth of spending the increased per capita payment.

We voted for this Administration believing that it understood what is happening to the AFM. But the above proposal is almost entirely devoted to beautifying the AFM offices, looking to the past, and keeping the status quo. There is zero consideration for the 75,000 members paying the bills.

This proposal continues the AFM’s decade-long obliviousness to shrinking locals, fleeing membership, and an imminent collapse.

I backed and voted for this Administration because I believed in its enthusiasm and intelligence. I respectfully propose that the President and Executive Board create a diverse commission of members to study and formulate a new structure and plan for the AFM.

If our leadership continues on this path, failing to confront the severe structural problems facing the union, we will continue to see nothing but dues increases that solely benefit the national offices, leaders, and employees, until there are no members left to pay their expenses.