The AFM has a record of successfully engaging Congress on issues of importance to your career, family, and livelihood. The purpose of the AFM National Legislative Office is to organize members of Congress to work in support of our issues. AFM member active involvement in legislative campaigns has made a difference. Your response to AFM political email blasts from the AFM President’s Office reached a peak last year. We want to thank you for all the letters, phone calls, and emails sent to make your voices heard in direct support of our Capitol Hill lobbying efforts.
Let’s take a quick look at some major wins over the years.
Musical Instruments as Carry-on Baggage: The fight to clarify federal law regarding your right to carry musical instruments onboard commercial airlines began in earnest immediately after the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks. As Congress raced to revise what may and may not be carried onboard airplanes, the AFM along with the AFL-CIO worked to include language about musical instruments in the first Aviation and Transportation Security Act.
During the debate, the AFM’s legislative language was often misrepresented on the Hill, leading to it being referred to as “the tuba amendment.” Eventually, we were able to establish that the portage of musical instruments would be considered but not guaranteed. After 11 years of dogged campaigning, Congress added legislation in the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act to allow instruments onboard. Negotiations on rulemaking began at the Department of Transportation with the Carry-on Coalition, led by AFM President Ray Hair, sitting across the table from the major and regional airlines. It resulted in the settlement that guides our travel efforts today. AFM member calls and emails to Congress made the difference in how our representatives voted.
Music Modernization Act: Passed in 2018, this piece of legislation was the first major copyright revision in 30 years and updates copyright law to make statutory licensing fairer for creators and more efficient for digital music providers.
National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities: More than a decade of disputes over projects funded and conservative attacks on the value of the agency’s offerings led to struggles to increase per capita endowment funding. The AFM, along with AFL-CIO Department of Professional Employees (DPE) Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry Coordinating Committee (AEMI) affiliates and the nation’s nonprofit arts community finally brought Republicans and Democrats together, convincing members of Congress of the viability of this agency and the financial support it gives to every congressional district.
Under the historic leadership of House Arts Caucus Chair Louise Slaughter (D-NY) [now deceased] and current Co-Chairs Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the agency was able to achieve its highest level of funding ever for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, $207 million (a $27 million increase over FY2022-enacted funding levels). Representative Pingree recognized your efforts in a letter that was printed in the 102nd AFM Convention Program (available at www.afm.org/convention).
American Rescue Plan-Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act: The Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act helps financially troubled multiemployer plans meet their benefit obligations to retired participants. It was part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which President Joe Biden signed into law March 11, 2021. All AFM vested members are stakeholders in this legislation, which shored-up the AFM-EPF until the year 2053. Individual member participants, AFM Taskforce for Employment of Musicians Promotional Organization (TEMPO) Signature members, and AFM player conference members made calls to Capitol Hill in support of passage.
Current issues in Congress:
American Music Fairness Act (AMFA): AMFA will provide a performance right (royalty) for music played on AM/FM terrestrial radio, in the same way they are paid when their music is played on streaming services. Currently, AM/FM stations are the only media that do not compensate artists for their music.
Performing Artist Tax Parity Act: Offered by Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), this act will restore tax benefits for arts workers lost in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act: The PRO Act restores the right of workers to freely and fairly form a union and bargain together for changes in the workplace. It is a landmark worker empowerment, civil rights, and economic stimulus legislation.
TEMPO: Supporting Candidates Who Support Music
AFM members have joined together to support candidates who support music. For musicians, it is critical that we support lawmakers and candidates who fight for issues we care about including:
- Stricter copyright and performance rights laws guaranteeing musicians are fairly compensated
- Stronger pension system so musicians have a secure retirement
- Increased National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funding
- Improved travel regulations making it easier to travel with instruments
- More music education so our next generation of musicians may learn their craft
Federal law prohibits dues money from being used for most political purposes. That’s why musicians have established TEMPO (Taskforce for Employment of Musicians Promotional Organization). TEMPO is solely comprised of small contributions given by AFM musicians—like you.
AFM is not soliciting contributions to TEMPO from any individual who is not a member of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM), executive or professional employee of AFM or its affiliates, or their family member living in the same household. Any contribution received from such an individual will be returned to that contributor. Only United States citizens and lawful permanent United States residents may contribute. AFM TEMPO makes contributions and expenditures in federal, state and local elections. All contributions are voluntary and an individual may refuse to contribute without any reprisal. Any guideline contribution amount is merely a suggestion and an individual is free to contribute more or less and AFM will not favor or disadvantage the individual by reason of the amount of a contribution or a decision not to contribute. Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year. Contributions and gifts to AFM TEMPO are not tax deductible. Contributions by foreign nationals, corporations or companies are prohibited.