The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) is a union that represents the interests of professional musicians in the U.S. and Canada. It is the largest organization of musicians in the world. In the 19th century there were a number of scattered organizations of musicians all over the U.S. providing musicians facilities like loans, financial assistance during illness or extended unemployment and death benefits. When problems arose between these societies, delegates from each one of them came forward and united to form a chartered trade union which they called the American Federation of Musicians. When formed, the AFM represented 3000 musicians. It grew rapidly to represent 45000 musicians in the next ten years.
The AFM considers every musician who gets paid for his/her musical services a professional musician. The AFM helps professional musicians by:
- negotiating fair agreements.
- protecting ownership of recorded music.
- securing benefits such as health care and pension, or lobbying our legislators.
- raising industry standards and placing the professional musician in the foreground of the cultural landscape.
The most significant service offered by the AFM is the AFM-EPF. The AFM and employers contributing to the AFM joined hands to form a trust that established a pension fund for all professional musicians. The assets of the trust are utilized for the following purposes:
- provide retirement and related benefits to covered employees of the employers eligible to participate in the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Plan and their dependants or beneficiaries; and
- meet the reasonable administrative and other expenses attributable to the operation of the fund and the plan.
With various beneficial schemes in place, the AFM demonstrates its determination to:
- bring all unorganized musicians under one umbrella, extending to them the benefits of an organized body without losing control over industry sectors and labor markets;
- negotiate contracts and exercise the power of unionism to improve wages and working conditions of musicians, and expand their roles in workplace decision.