President’s Column (Q4)

September 21st, 2009

During the summer, I had an opportunity to attend a negotiating workshop held in conjunction with the Regional Orchestra Players Association conference or ROPA as it is commonly called. This was held in Dayton, Ohio so it made travel costs a relative non issue as it was within easy driving distance. It was a good opportunity to touch bases with AFM people whom we deal with regularly. Negotiator Nathan Kahn along with Organizing & Education Director Janice Galassi were in attendance. I also had an opportunity to say hello to Debbie Newmark, Director of Symphonic Electronic Media and others from the New York office as well. The workshop was very well put together and, even though I have dealt with about every situation covered there since I took over the job here, it was still an opportunity to refresh myself with many issues and procedures. I did not attend the remainder of the conference simply due to the work load back in the ’Burg and the cost to our local. Our two delegates to the conference were Paula Tuttle (Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre) and Rebecca Rothermel (Pittsburgh Opera). There is some talk of sending only one delegate to ROPA to represent both orchestras as was done at one time, and I would again favor this as a cost cutting measure.

Speaking of costs, one cost that I am highly in favor of is the money that we spent on our new website. The work was done by Bruce Cridlebaugh, who constructs websites professionally. If you go to www.afmpittsburgh.com <http://www.afmpittsburgh.com> , you will see a most professional website just waiting for your playing or teaching info and overall use. Many members have responded to our questionnaire already. I do believe that the website is the most visible part of our operation and has a huge impact on our ability to attract members and to serve them as well. Check it out when you can. We are always open to suggestions so please do not hesitate to let us know what you think.

As we move closer to the end of the year (how can that be!), we are doing quite well from a financial standpoint. There is a solid financial cushion which we want to see on an ongoing basis. In order for that to be, two things must happen. We must continue to attract new members, even in these difficult financial times with miscellaneous work down, and we must continue to be vigilante in terms of our spending. If we can accomplish these two broad goals, then we will survive in the long-term. We must  avoid any semblance of the financial shortsightedness which this local may have been guilty of many years ago. We do owe FAC member and former president Phil Slaugh a debt of gratitude for helping to make appropriate internal changes during his term of office.

We attended another Allegheny County Labor Council meeting, presided over by Jack Shea, in September. This was right before the national AFL-CIO convention held right here in the ‘Burg. It was an opportunity to hear the latest on the casino issue among other things. At this writing, there is no good news to report. There is no Union presence at the casino as of this writing, including AFTRA, IATSE, SEIU, IBT (Teamsters), and, of course, the AFM. I may be asking you to volunteer your time for informational picketing at the Rivers Casino soon! We will see what happens. I did, however, get in a good plug for live UNION music at the well attended gathering at the IBEW Hall on the South Side.

As for the AFL-CIO Convention, we had lots of UNION music on hand each day. Tom Evans and group performed along with new members Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers. Also a Union country band from Wheeling, WV known as the Fabulous Bender Boys and  the Rick Purcell band participated. I attempted to attend as much of the convention as I possibly could. I do apologize to anyone who tried to reach me during that week. I made every effort to do call backs on phone messages left on my office voicemail. I had the opportunity to touch bases with people whom I know and to make new acquaintances in the labor community as well. Our own AFM President Tom Lee and Secretary-Treasurer Sam Folio were in attendance as delegates to the convention. I also got to say hello to our former president Anne Feeney. As you might imagine, health care reform and the free choice act relating to union organizing were hot topics discussed throughout the proceedings. I was in attendance as President Obama addressed the convention and his focus was on the economy along with the aforementioned items.

In closing, let me thank you for your continued support of local 60-471. Without you, it doesn’t work! Take care of yourselves and have a great holiday season! We will see you here in 2010.