American Federation of Musicians & International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Endorse Joe Biden for President

By David Salazar

The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) have endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States.

Both AFM and IATSE represent musicians and stage employees of major opera companies and orchestras around the United States.

In a report made by Deadline, AFM reached its decision to support the Democratic candidate via a unanimous vote by its International Executive Board. Meanwhile, IATSE reached its decision back in May.

“For musicians who are concerned about providing for themselves and their families, protecting their rights at work, being able to perform their job without undue political influence, and ensuring the security of their pay, benefits, and retirement, Joe Biden is the clear choice,” said AFM international president Ray Hair in a statement. “The Federation joins with all Americans who want to see a nation that is united, that promotes inclusion and a vision for the future, and that honors and respects all of its citizens. And for these reasons, AFM is proud to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States.”

“If elected, Biden has pledged to sign the Protecting the Right to Organize Act into law, champion legislation banning so-called ‘right to work’ laws, appoint members to the National Labor Relations Board who will protect workers, increase workplace safety and health, and ensure freelance entertainment workers receive the legal benefits and protections they deserve by making it harder for employers to misclassify workers as independent contractors,” added IATSE’s release on its official website.

Opera companies and other arts organizations have suffered mightily during the COVID-19 lockdown, with many receiving minimal support or relief from the federal government under President Donald Trump’s administration. As a result, employees of arts organizations and other freelance artists have found themselves in increasingly challenging financial turmoil. Per Be An Arts Hero, a campaign to raise financial support for artists, there are currently 5.1 million members of the arts and culture sector who are out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The arts and culture sector adds $877 billion in value to the United States’ economy annually, providing 4.5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, according to a press release issued by Be An Arts Hero.

“We are second only to Retail as the most powerful economic driver of this economy, boasting an export of $72.6 billion and an annual growth rate of 4.16 percent, nearly double that of the U.S. economy as a whole at 2.2 percent,” adds Be An Arts Hero’s open letter to U.S. Senators asking for support.

Biden’s official website outlines no specific plan for supporting the arts and culture sectors.