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Best practices for Negotiating Electronic Media Clauses
by Richard Sandals
Associate Director, Symphonic Services Division, CFM

 

Orchestras and their Locals have a great deal of leeway in negotiating Collective Agreements on the subject of live performance. When it comes to electronic media, however, Locals don't have quite the same freedom. Obviously, it's not in the Federation's best interest — or your best interest! — to allow orchestras to undercut each other when it comes to recording. Accordingly, there are two AFM Bylaws that deal with this issue:

 

Article 14, S4(b): A Local Symphonic CBA (including, but not limited to, an interim agreement and/or a side letter of agreement) may contain provisions for the orchestra to provide electronic services (radio, television, tape, film, phonograph, etc.), provided that the International President’s office or, in Canada, the Vice President from Canada, has approved those provisions in advance of the agreement’s submission for contract ratification.

 

Article 15, S6(b): Locals may not enter into any contract or agreement with any person, firm, or corporation providing for any type of electronic media production without prior written approval from the International President’s office.

It can be problematic if you follow only the minimum requirement that approval be requested in advance of an agreement's submission for contract ratification. If it's the night before your ratification vote, it’s too late.

 Accordingly, SSD recommends the following procedure for securing approval for electronic media language:

 1.) If your negotiating committee is considering making proposals that concern electronic media, submit those proposals to SSD before you bring them to the bargaining table.

 2.) If management makes proposals that concern electronic media, submit those proposals to SSD as soon as you receive them — and certainly before you accept them or start negotiating those terms.

 These two steps will enable us to advise you on what changes, if any, would need to be made to the proposals (yours or management’s) in order to make them acceptable to the AFM. We don't necessarily want to dictate the exact terms, merely to clarify what would be an acceptable range of outcomes. Then:

3.) Once you have a tentative agreement, submit the electronic media terms to SSD for review.

 

If your final agreement has stayed within the parameters we've defined, this part will be easy — and that’s the whole point. If Locals and negotiating committees consult with SSD early in the process, we can help make sure you’re moving in a direction that will be lead to conditions that can be approved by the Vice President from Canada or by the President, as required. Of course, we’re also happy to provide any assistance we can throughout the bargaining process — that’s why we’re here.