American Federation of Musicians Essay

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Every day millions of Americans turn on their radios, IPods, or some other device which allows them to listen to their favorite musicians and have no idea that there is a union standing guard to ensure the rights of those very musicians. The average American may think their favorite musicians are rolling “dough” and not realize that for the past hundred and fourteen years the American Federation of Musicians, aka AFM, has worked to improve the professional lives of musicians across North America. (American Federation of Musicians, 2010) AFM attracts its members with a mission to unite professional musicians which states, “We can live and work in dignity; Our work will be fulfilling and compensated fairly; We will have a meaningful voice …show more content…
(American Federation of Musicians, 2010) As technology and membership grew so did the scope and responsibilities of the union.

During the twentieth century the AFM dealt with political issues such as unemployment, immigration, the 18th Amendment, and other legislation which affected the union’s power in negotiating for musicians. Though the union lost its battle to stop Congress from the passing the 18th Amendment and the “Cabaret Tax” in 1918, they were successful the following year in “arranging easier access for musicians traveling between the US and Canada” and they were able to reduce the number of foreign musicians, willing to work for poor wages, who were allowed to enter the US. While the union still actively worked for the rights of musicians in the 1920’s their next major victory didn’t come until 1935 when they were able to secure assistance for unemployed musicians “through the government’s Works Projects Administration.” From that time on the union fought tirelessly to establish minimum wages for all musicians, to have the cabaret tax repealed (accomplished in 1966), to reach an agreement with the motion picture industry (accomplished in 1952), and

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