Drew McManus wrote a thought-provoking post regarding internal conflict within the American Federation of Musicians on his blog Adaptistration recently. This post outlines a proposed .10 percent work dues increase for AFM musicians. The most recent work dues increase (.05 percent) occurred in 2003, with the proposed goal of improving project and staff funding in the Symphonic Services Division. These improvements largely failed to materialize following this work dues increase, and North Carolina Symphony bassist
Although a .10 percent increase may not sound like much, Drew give several illuminating examples of what such an increase would mean for the AFM. Check out his post for more information.
One statistic that really stings is the discrepancy between ROPA orchestra musicians and ICSOM orchestra musicians:
Average ISCOM musician salary: $61,129 (not including opera or ballet musicians)
Average ROPA musician salary: $13,000
Although a large number of ROPA orchestras are part-time, a significant number of musicians attempt to subsist on this income (plus other part-time employment opportunities). How much does $13,000 buy a person these days? That only comes out to $1083 a month.
For more on this subject as well as other issues facing members of ROPA orchestras, check out my article Road Warrior Without an Expense Account Part V: Regional Orchestras.