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Musicians Union ‘Has Not Revolved Our Core Issues’ With Studios, Sets Date to Resume Negotiations

After negotiating a new contract with film and TV producers for the last 10 days, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the 70,000-member union that represents musicians in orchestras and on-air performances, has “not resolved our core issues” and will continue negotiations later this month, according to a statement put out Monday (Feb. 5) by Tino Gagliardi, the union’s international president and chief negotiator. 

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“The time is now,” Gagliardi tells Billboard over Zoom. “The business model has changed, and the way we are compensated needs to reflect that.”

Echoing the Hollywood writers and actors unions, which went on strike for months in 2023 before resolving their contracts with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP), the AFM identified its top issues as higher compensation, improved streaming residual payments, better healthcare and protections against artificial intelligence (AI). To the latter issue, Gagliardi said in Monday’s statement that AI protections are necessary “so our sound and/or image cannot be captured or used without consent, credit, and compensation.”

Gagliardi adds to Billboard: “I’m going to continue to fight and we’re going to continue our argument for fair treatment for musicians until we actually come to a deal. Am I confident we’re going to get one? I’m never confident. It’s up to them to show me that they’re willing to make a deal.”

AMPTP reps did not respond to requests for comment.

Members of the Writers Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and other Hollywood unions have been supporting the AFM since contract negotiations began with a Jan. 22 rally at the offices of the AMPTP in Sherman Oaks, Calif. 

The writers and actors unions’ 2023 agreements with the AMPTP make Gagliardi hopeful for a timely AFM deal. “The solidarity in the entertainment guilds is very solid this time around,” he says, “unlike some of the issues we’ve had in the past.”

At the January rally, Teamsters Local 399 secretary-treasurer Lindsay Dougherty told a crowd of union supporters: “We learned a hard, long lesson last year that we had to be together since day one. That’s going to be the difference going into this fight for the musicians, is that we’re all together in this industry.” 

Negotiations will resume Feb. 21 and Feb. 22, according to Gagliardi.

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