Sunday, April 18, 2010


TommyGate: the Definition

Tom Lee's designated lackey Terri Cadiente (stuntwomen, coach AND the AFM EMD administrator) was caught illegally downloading (thats right- stealing) proprietary sensitive electronic data from Local 47, AFM (Los Angeles). Here is a link to the Local 47 announcement about this disgusting data mining crime:
Click on: A message from the Presidents Office

Also checkout The AFM Observer blog post:

And what is Tommy's response-He places Terri the thief on administrative leave-and from what we hear locks her out of the
AFM west coast offices on Wilshire Blvd. (Los Angeles). He doesn't fire her or contact the FBI or contact the LA District Attorney
or the State Attorney General-he keeps her as an employee. Why? (So much for his concern for union members legal and privacy rights) Is it because if he fired Terri and threw her to the dogs she might rat out her boss President Tommy for giving her the direct order and instruction to electronically break and enter? Stay tuned.

Our sources tell us that Terri (who knows absolutely nothing about the recording business) does not lift a finger or do anything remotely connected with her "job" without the express direction and instructions from thief-in-chief Tom Lee.

The shit is about to hit the Federal Crime fan. It is common knowledge all over the AFM that Tommy hates Local 47, and particularly it's recording musicians. People go to jail and get fined huge amounts all the time for this crap. This just about as low as Tommy boy has ever gone. Local 802, 357, 10-208, ICSOM, RMA, TMA etc. you all could all be next. Put up your firewalls, protect your members, secure your credit card numbers, batten down the hatches and lock down your private data.

You have been warned. More to come

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Breaking AFM News-Nashville, LA, FMSMF, SRSPF and the IEB

It's Official. Dave Pomeroy crushes Harold Bradley in the Local 257 Nasville Election. Pomeroy's running mate, Craig Krampf
defeats Billy Linneman for Secretary/Treasure and Nashville gets a new Board of Directors. Both Bradley and Linneman are on the IEB and are two of Tom's of attack dogs/cronies-constantly berating Los Angeles and Nashville AFM recording musicians. So now, Bradley and Linneman have no constituency-period. Wanna' bet Lee fights and lies to keep his boys on the IEB? God forbid that Lee would replace them with the actual officers from Nashville and Los Angeles.

Its Official-Tom Lee, the IEB and the AFM will not be getting a Centavo from the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund. Lee just informed the IEB in a conference call. So much for AFM counsel Jeff Freund's "guarantee" and "it's a slam dunk" to Tom and the IEB that they would prevail. So now, recording musicians who have paid the SRSPF (sound recording special payments) bogus work dues are beginning to call the AFM and ask for their money back, as they should. The AFM is in a box. A decision by the Alliance (AMPTP) not to allow the the Motion Picture Fund to cooperate with the AFM and new bylaw directly challenges the legality of the entire bylaw and the bogus work dues it mandates. If the AFM can't collect from film musicians, how in the hell can they collect from record musicians?. If the AFM does not refund the sound recording money immediately, we certainly hope there is another lawsuit ASAP.

It's Official - Vince Trombetta's entire slate wins big in Los Angeles. Chuck Fernandez (the pompous jackass who IS the Committee of all CAPS) and Bobby Rodriguez, a Local 47 Director - both of them Lee's guys in LA - were thrashed.

It's Official-Hal Espinosa has been removed by Tom as a Trustee on the Pension Fund. Tom's states in a letter his reasons - "you're no longer the President of Local 47". Melinda Wagner, a current Pension Fund Trustee, does not hold an AFM or local office as has not for years - let just see what Tom does with buddy Harold Bradley, who has not attended a pension fund meeting in 20 months (during the worst financial crisis since the 20's) and now officially represents no one but himself. (Bradley as a pension fund trustee was a sham from the beginning). Welcome to your AFM representation - at it worst.

So today, the IEB and the AFM Pension Fund have no officer representation of any kind from LA. (Phillip Yao, though from LA, was appointed as an at-large pension trustee). So for the FIRST TIME IN AFM history, LA, a local with 8,000 plus members, 10% of the AFM's TOTAL membership and who also provides about one-third (33%) of the ENTIRE Federation bankroll is completely unrepresented within the AFM hierarchy. Why in the world should LA remain a part of the AFM at all-would you? What's the point? If your Local contributes millions to your national union and they just keep taking your money, spending thousands constantly attacking your Local musician members and officers and in effect denying that you even officially exist, why in the blazes would you or should you stay around and take more punishment. John Sweeney, are you listening?

It was a very bad week for the Lee machine, and a good week for us musicians, (except for Espinosa). Like Joe McCarthy and Petrillo before him, the wheels are falling off Tom's corrupt machine, the lies are being exposed daily to the entire AFM, lawsuits are in progress and are being filed and - the money is being shut off. More to come...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


An agreement between the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the National Music Publishers Association, the Digital Media Association, the Songwriters Guild of America and the Nashville Songwriters Association on ways to get paid for music that is digitally distributed (but not necessarily downloaded) has been reached. The agreement covers interactive streaming, downloads, and ad-supported services.

It should also come as no surprise to anyone that the AFM, which has been spending wads of cash touting radio royalties, (a virtually dead income stream) was AWOL and nowhere to be found in this deal, an agreement which could have had major positive economic consequences for all AFM musicians and the AFM itself. I placed calls to my RIAA sources and was informed that the AFM was contacted and never bothered to return any calls, even those where the message clearly explained the significance of for musicians. My source said "they blew us off". 

Once again, the AFM has it's head in the sand, throwing away millions of potential dollars of income, pissing off a major player in the entertainment industry, and bringing the Federation another step closer to insolvency.

Read the article in Variety from Sept 23, 2008 about the agreement. Click on the link in my links section at the top of the blog.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tom Lee votes to oppose the election of John Sweeney (and Richard Trumka) to head the AFL-CIO in 1995

AFM President Tom Lee was recently appointed chair of the General Board of AFL-CIO'S Dept. for Professional Employees (DPE) by John Sweeney and the AFL-CIO. (Sweeney is the current President of the AFL-CIO). However, in 1995, Lee was one of only two AFM IEB members (as the then AFM-VP) opposing the AFM's endorsement of Sweeney for President of the AFL-CIO. You don't suppose Lee just happened to forget to mention that when he accepted this appointment.

The following is an excerpt as reprinted in the Oct. 1995 DOS Orchestra Bulletin #45 which itself was a reprint from the Officers Edge, an official AFM Publication.

American Federation of Musicians Endorses Sweeney-Sorta

The top two officers of the AFL-CIO (namely President and Secretary Treasurer) are being contested at the labor body's upcoming convention. Incumbent President Tom Donahue and incumbent Secretary-Treasurer Barbara Easterling are being challenged by Presidential Candidate John Sweeney, President of the Services Employees International Union (SEIU), and Richard Trumka, President of the United Mine Workers.

The election contest presented the AFM's IEB with a unique challenge at its September 1995 meeting. The crux of the debate concerned whether or not the IEB should or could endorse a candidate and whether or not the IEB should or could require the AFM's AFL-CIO delegates to vote strictly in accordance with any endorsement the IEB might make (rather than in accordance with their individual judgement or conscience).

The AFM is represented at the AFL-CIO Convention by the AFM President and Secretary Treasurer (who are delegates by virtue of their office) and three delegates who are elected at large by the AFM-Convention. After extensive discussion, The IEB adopted a resolution  to "support John Sweeney and his ticket for the leadership of the AFL-CIO". The vote was 5 to 2 to endorse the Sweeney ticket (with then Vice-President Tom Lee and Sec.Treasurer Steve Sprague the only two IEB members opposed) The AFM VP from Canada Ray Petch abstaining and President Steve Young not voting.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What's going on with the 2% workdues on Special Payments?

First, just the facts Jack. The AFM has not billed or invoiced anyone for the 2% work dues tax as of 9/4/08

But according to Lee and Folio, prosperity is just around the corner. They were chomping at the bit to spend the 2% work dues levied on recording musicians who receive special payments checks. They expected the 2% so-called work dues tax, totaling about 1.2 million dollars to start pouring in right about now. Surprise, that just may never happen.

1. Before the AFM can invoice anyone for the 2% (for monies that by any measure are not work or scale wages) the Federation needs itemized information from the Funds (Record and Motion Picture) - whom to bill, where to bill and exact dollar amounts.

2. My New York AFM sources tell me that the Federation has not yet received a shred of info from the Motion Picture Fund regarding that information. It appears there have been legal inquiries to both Funds regarding whether or not it is within Fund guidelines and actually legal for them to send the AFM personal and private income related information about Fund participants.

3. My AFM sources also say that the Federation has already spent more than 60% ($600,000) of the money it was expecting to get from the 2%. The AFM is now desperately raiding other restricted monies, including their relocation fund, to pay the their monthly expenses. AFM sources also confirm that the AFM's Attorney billable hours are out of control- much of it related to actions relating to recording musicians. Lee clearly expected to collect the money and use much of it against recording musicians, raising concern amongst certain IEB members.  

4. So, the bills are on hold, but, if and when they are ever sent out I strongly urge every recording musician to ignore them. If and when bills are ever sent out, new lawsuits against the Federation will be filed immediately. If you ever get a bill, check back here for further information. If the bills ever come, and they may not - you would still have several options; not paying a thing, installments, waiting until a final notice or until charges are filed before you even considered sending a single dollar.

5. I'm wondering-just how did the AFM intend to collect 'work dues' from the hundreds and hundred of folks who receive checks from the Funds but are not AFM members and are In no way obligated to pay anything, for example the beneficiaries, spouses, former members and non- AFM-members (yes-some receive checks) etc. Was the AFM planning to illegally bill them all anyway and hope they paid? I've been told that these folks account for more than a third of the funds distribution. Curious indeed.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The AFM vs Entertainment Unions, RMA, Phil Ayling and Recording Musicians - A Manifesto

1. Introduction-The Crisis

The American Federation of Musicians is caught up in a major crisis of its own making. The AFM is fighting its own members, the more than 1400 recording musicians and their elected leadership who are also members of the RMA (Recording Musicians Association). The multi-million dollar question is - Why?

The confrontation has finally escalated into Federal Court and other arenas. Lawsuits, DOL (Department of Labor) and other legal processes have been initiated by individual recording musicians against the Federation and are ongoing. New actions are pending. Recording musicians are determined to:

(1) Block AFM actions and dangerous policies that could, if left unchecked, lead to the destruction of major Federation recording agreements.

(2) Achieve guaranteed and meaningful representation for recording musicians within the AFM or, if all else fails... 

(3) Set in motion what some of us call the nuclear option - recording musicians walking away from the AFM. That would be an expensive, messy and very public divorce with a silver lining - It would clear the way for professional recording musicians to affiliate with a major and respected entertainment union.

Regardless of whether AFM President Tom Lee and the AFM's response to the multi-million dollar question is (1) personality conflicts (2) a personal vendetta against an RMA officer(s)(3) fear of the organization (4) power and control issues (5) financial jealously (evidently  Lee is fuming that his approximately 130K per year CPI adjusted salary in '08 and multiple expense accounts together don't match the session fees and residuals received by some in-demand studio musicians in Nashville and Los Angeles) or (6) any combination of these, by any measure, Lee and the  Federation have totally taken the wrong road.

The bottom line is: Recording musicians who contribute millions of dollars to the AFM in work dues have a fundamental right to representation, and one way or another, they intend to get it. The Federation has not confronted a crisis of such magnitude since 1958 when thousands of musicians quit the AFM and formed the Musicians Guild of America. 

2. Conflict

In 2001, during his first term as AFM President, Lee began to denigrate the RMA, (a Player Conference of the Federation with chapters in Florida, Los Angeles, Nashville and New York) it's membership, and their elected representatives. Every year since the assault has broadened. Lee and the AFM's IEB (International Executive Board) have recently fueled the flames, threatening to decertify the RMA as a Player Conference and even more seriously, by concocting dozens of sub-standard so called "one-off" video game and other second-rate recording deals. In the process, Lee and the IEB are undercutting the rate increases, back-end protections, contribution gains and workplace safeguards we fought for and won in virtually every contract ratified by recording musicians during the past 50 years.

Recording musicians in Los Angeles, Nashville and now New York are fighting back in the courts and on other fronts with a substantial war chest and with rapidly growing support. Lee and Secretary/Treasurer Sam Folio have driven the AFM to the edge of a cliff, apparently with the IEB fully on-board. The situation has the potential to tear the Federation apart.

To make matters worse, it appears that Lee and the IEB have embraced the notion that residuals and new-use compensation be eliminated from recording contracts and replaced with buyouts - a view that not only threatens hundreds of AFM recording musicians but in addition puts the Federation on a collision course with SAG, WGA, IATSE, DGA, AFTRABy its actions, the AFM has thumbed its nose at all of them. A shared priority for all of these guilds is the retention, protection and increase of back-end residuals and new-use payments for their members. But, not the AFM.

3. - Background

The American Federation of Musicians is organized like a membership club, not a union. Similar to Costco,  you sign up, pay your dues and  zap - you're a member. AFM Locals do not require a minimum performance standard to join and no auditions are required. You don't even need to own a musical instrument. Years ago my dog joined online for 6 months and I listed his instrument as 'Vocals-Barker'. New AFM prospects are never cautioned to "consider their decision carefully" or "don't join until you're experienced, working, or have a gig lined up". AFTRA, DGA, IATSE, SAG, The Teamsters and WGA all maintain their professional standards by requiring real world expertise, personal recommendations, documented work experience and significant initiation fees, thereby giving new recruits a fighting chance before they dive into highly competitive real-world job markets. But, not the AFM.

The entire Federation today in the US and Canada has about 70-90 thousand individual members - maybe. The AFM will not disclose actual figures. The financial pillars of the Federation are the small percentage of working professional musicians who are represented primarily by the AFM Player Conferences but whose memberships and leadership cannot vote at an AFM Convention. There are 3-4000 major symphony orchestra musicians represented by ICSOM, about 1600-1800 working recording musicians, about 90% of whom are also RMA members working in Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, Florida and San Francisco, several hundred Canadian Symphony Musicians represented by OCSOM, several hundred Broadway Theater musicians, several thousand part to full time ROPA orchestra musicians and a few hundred full-time free lancers in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Florida, Chicago, Nashville, Dallas, Boston, Montreal, Atlanta, etc. Almost everyone else (about 58-78 thousand members) fall into the barely working or never-worked 'club member' category including a large percentage of local union officers  who are also Convention Delegates.

At best, only 10-12% of the Federation's total membership are working professionals. These musicians pay millions of dollars in work dues to the AFM and fund the lions share of the financial costs for the entire Federation bureaucracy. At each of the last several conventions, recording musicians, again most of whom are RMA members, were tapped for more and more money and are now paying about twice as much in per capita work dues as any other AFM members including the 1000 or so full time ICSOM symphony orchestra players who earn in excess of $100,000 annually. However, unlike the other entertainment unions, the dollar amounts recording musicians hand over to the AFM as work-dues are not 'capped'- the sky is the limit. Dozens of studio musicians (not 'stars') in Nashville and Los Angeles pay more in total work-dues every year to the Federation than superstars Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman pay to AFTRA or SAG!

The structure of the AFM convention has remained essentially unchanged for the last 80 years and Lee has exploited it to suppress the representation of working musicians. He has gained control over the delegates from dozens and dozens of very small (10-300 members) 'barely-working' locals by using pork and promises to push his divisive political and legislative agenda. Additionally, this voting block has combined with other 'AFM club members' and imposed punitive action, threatening legislation, excessive taxes, huge fees and extraordinary work dues on the working professionals, regardless of the fact that the majority of these delegates have no knowledge or connection whatsoever with any aspect of the professional music industry - and particularly with the recording industry as its exists in Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, Florida and San Francisco. 

Historically, working musicians who pay the freight and are the AFM's primary stakeholders have never received quality representation within the Federation and it now appears inevitable that without a total reorganization, the AFM will collapse, sooner rather than later. The Seattle Symphony Orchestra decertified from the AFM precisely for that reason in 1988. However there are several respected professional entertainment unions that do make member representation and contract enforcement the highest possible priority, including IATSE, AFTRA and the Teamsters. But, not the AFM!

4. -  A Draconian AFM - Exhibit A, B, and C.

Using any reasonable standard, professional recording musicians ought to be a constituency with significant legislative and political power within the AFM. That essential right of direct representation is non existent within the Federation.

The following example of the absurd and most-likely illegal delegate voting at the last AFM Convention is true. All of the Canadian Delegates voted en masse to impose an additional 2% work dues on each recording musician who receives a yearly check from the FMSMF and SRSPF (Special Payments Funds). Why wouldn't they - every Canadian recording musician is totally exempt from that additional 2%!  Tom Lee and the IEB lobbied the Canadian delegates, who represented members who were all exempt from the 2%, to vote to impose the tax on AFM recording musicians working primarily in LA, Nashville and New York. A deplorable scenario that could not happen at an AFTRA, IATSE, DGA, WGA or SAG convention.

Another example: Federal Law: LMRDA TITLE 1, the labor union 'bill of rights' guarantees any union member the fundamental right to examine any contract that he/she works under. The Motion Picture Agreement was ratified about three years ago, but the AFM never published the agreement!  In fact, the AFM Web site still has the agreement that expired in Feb. 2005 online at!  For the last three and-one-half years, how could any recording musician possibly exercise their right to independently confirm the correct scales, terms, contributions etc. of an contract Lee and the AFM never published? That's outrageous! In my view, the AFM never printed the agreement as part of a calculated strategy -  a plan to deliberately deceive both musicians and prospective employers by making It almost impossible to reference the terms of the major recording agreements. It should also come as no surprise that recording musicians find it exceedingly difficult to obtain copies of any 'one-off' contract they have been called to work under. The strategy is clear.

A third example: Several years ago, after repeated requests, the IEB passed a resolution that required the Federation President to officially travel to and address the four largest AFM Locals at least once each year. This motion was designed primarily to require President Lee to visit Local 47 Los Angeles and address the serious local and national  concerns of it's 8500 members and their Executive Board, which Lee had been avoiding for years since his election.  As of Aug. 2008, Lee has not attended or addressed any membership meetings of Local 47, the 2nd largest AFM Local for more than 4 years. Local 47 members contribute millions of dollars in electronic media and Symphonic work dues to the AFM and also fund between 25-35% of the total Federation income. However, Lee has traveled to LA several dozen times since that motion passed in '04 to glad hand at award shows, hobnob, booze and schmooze. Standard Tom Lee - completely dismiss any Motion or AFM bylaw as he pleases and count on the IEB to do absolutely nothing.

5. The Issues

The recording musicians who have engaged the Federation and Lee in the courts have been left with no choice but to fight within the legal system for equitable representation and due process from their own union - and you ain't seen nothin' yet! The present lawsuits directed at the AFM are just the tip of the iceberg - only a first strike. 

Also, let me be clear to Ray, Joe, Harold, Bill S. Billy, Bob, and Erwin on the IEB: recording musicians have reached the end of the line. Any small window of opportunity is closing rapidly. As a board, you have continually rubber-stamped dozens of Tom's video-game and other one-off agreements, thereby undermining every existing AFM negotiated recording contract and are also promoting the elimination of residuals and back end payments replaced by buyouts, a policy that has not gone unnoticed by our sister guilds. Be assured that AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and every entertainment union president, officer and administrator will see this Blog or receive it in a hard copy. 

A note about the PMG to Bloggers and the IEB: regardless of the revisionist history and fiction that Lee, Folio, Dick Gabriel and Savina Ciaramella have been endlessly repeating around the country, the Professional Musicians Guild (PMG) was formed months after, I repeat after the AFM began slapping together the one-off video game agreements, not before. The PMG was a last resort, created as a proactive response to deal with Lee's threatening actions and where they might lead. The organizing campaign proved highly successful and the PMG, with 100's of members is still around - inactive but ready.

6.   Free Speech, Negotiations and Blacklisting

Lee has attempted to suppress free speech and intimidate AFM members using his office and presidency like the butt of a revolver. Among others, his RMA targets over the last few years have included RMA Presidents Phil Ayling and Brian O'Connor; Dave Pomeroy, Sheldon Sanov, Jay Rosen, David Schwartz and Marc Sazer. The Tom Lee "blacklist" is growing daily and today includes not only RMA members but many folks from Local 47, Local 257 and Local 802. 

All of this has the foul odor of the J. Edger Hoover and Joseph McCarthy communist witch-hunts and blacklisting of the 1950's. I've been told that Lee has actually asked players  "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the RMA or PMG"?  With RMA threatened, watch your back ICSOM, you could be next and Tom might ask to you sign a Loyalty Oath.  And regarding free speech, does anyone out there remember how many years it's been since our magazine, the International Musician printed criticism or critical comment of any Federation policy or decision from a member. The IM will not publish anything outside of the company line.

Year after year, RMA participated in calm, deliberate, respectful and professional negotiations with the AFM, attempting to address the differences head-on. Participants included RMA Board members and members of the recording community. The results unfortunately were totally unproductive, the team often finding that they had been lied to, deceived and undermined and then trashed by Lee and Company moments after they left the table. Today, promises from the Federation mean absolutely nothing. 

7. White Queen takes Rook - Check. 
It's Your Move

Tom Lee has attempted to turn RMA President Phil Ayling into the ultimate AFM evildoer. Lee depicts Ayling as the crafty manipulator running the show 24/7 behind the scenes - including the recent lawsuits and even a few non-existent threats dreamed up by Lee himself.  Lee has traveled across the USA and Canada singing the same song; if Ayling specifically and the RMA are rendered impotent, recording musicians across the country would then quitely fall into line. 

Tom-we're surprised you haven't figured it out. Do you actually believe that Ayling and a few colleagues could be orchestrating this  on their own  without the powerful ongoing support and guidance (financial and otherwise) from organizations and persons outside of the AFM? Ayling is a busy working musician - an oboe player, a multi-instrumentalist, RMA President and recording contract expert, not a political Svengali.  

We are defending our futures, livelihoods, colleagues, and sister guilds with formidable help. It would be foolish to underestimate the potential effects that our legal, labor, and political actions could have on the infrastructure of the Federation. We have the will and the financial and legal resources to continue in the courts for years or until the AFM completely changes course, or, until recording musicians exit the Federation- that nuclear option. The AFM has left us with few alternatives.

8. Where Do We Go From Here?

The Federation is at a crossroads. To remain a part of the AFM, recording musicians are going to require as a starting point:

(1) A Trade division within the AFM: giving recording musicians guaranteed representation and control of the recording business that they work and live in every day.

(2) Active and aggressive enforcement by the AFM of all aspects of the ratified recording agreements with major emphasis on safeguarding the use of recorded product.

(3) An immediate end to Federation one-off agreements.

(4) Guaranteed representation, as mandated in the Dissolution Agreement, for RMA and RMAC during every phase of any recording agreement negotiation.

(5) Meaningful voting participation at AFM Conventions for the Player Conferences representing all working musician 'stakeholders' (ICSOM, RMA, ROPA, OCSOM, and TMA). 

We are past the "lets talk about this" stage-only concrete action by the Federation might change our course. The financial costs to the AFM to implement these fundamental protections are negligible - the irony is that the largest amount would be the legal costs incurred to pursue and implement what the AFM is required to do under Federal law and have refused to do, namely the aggressive enforcement of negotiated recording contracts. Without implementation of the above, recording musicians are likely, one way or another, to leave the AFM with their millions of dollars of income, contributions and work dues and find a new home where they and thousands of other working professionals play an active role, or, they could decide to stay and continue this fight and hemorrhage the AFM indefinitely. In either of these scenarios, the potential costs to the AFM are staggering, perhaps in the millions of dollars.

When and if all of this proccedes to trial, our attorneys are looking forward to the prospect of Lee, Folio and every IEB member testifying under oath. The resulting cross-examinations and the depositions concerning Federation by-laws, DFR issues and numerous potential legal and labor law violations perpetrated against RMA officers and recording musicians should be fascinating.

The AFM is attempting to decimate the futures of recording musicians in Los Angeles, Florida, Nashville, and New York; decertify the RMA, discredit it's leadership, undercut and undermine negotiated AFM recording contracts with sub-standard one-off deals and in the process blunt the rights that all union musicians have been guaranteed under Federal Law. The AFM has provoked this war. Time has run out.