Ray Hair has been re-elected international president of the American Federation of Musicians at the union’s 101st convention in Las Vegas. Hair, who has been president of the 80,000-member union since 2010, ran unopposed, as he did in the union’s last two elections.
Also running unopposed this time were incumbents Bruce Fife, international vice president; Alan Willaert, the AFM’s vice president from Canada; and Jay Blumenthal, the union’s international secretary-treasurer.
“It’s about sticking together, and protecting each other, because together, we can,” Hair said. “That is the meaning of real unionism. This convention is about what we can do together, about remembering who we are, what we did, and what we can be.”
As international president, Hair negotiates industrywide agreements with the sound recording industry, the film and television industries, and other industry associations that employ musicians. Hair is also co-chair of the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund and represents the union’s 80,000 members on the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund and SoundExchange boards.
Hair’s election comes as some 20,000 unionized musicians across the country will soon see “painful” reductions in their pension benefits in order to keep the AFM’s $1.8 billion multi-employer pension fund from running out of money within the next 20 years. The reductions are required by federal law because the Fund has now entered “critical and declining” status.
The leaders of the AFM’s New York local – the union’s largest local – were voted out of office in December, in part over concerns about the health of the pension plan.
Eight candidates also were vying for seats on the executive board. Re-elected were incumbents John Acosta (Los Angeles Local 47), Tino Gagliardi (New York City Local 802), Tina Morrison (Spokane Local 105), and Dave Pomeroy (Nashville Local 257). Ed Malaga (Washington DC Local 161-710) was the only newcomer elected to the board. The three challengers who were not elected were Michael Allen (Denver Local 20-623), Luc Fortin (Montreal Local 406), and Beth Zare (San Francisco Local 6).
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