April 4, 2017
To All AGO Members:
As you may know, on Friday, March 31, the Federal Trade Commission issued a press release announcing that the AGO had entered into a Settlement Agreement with the Commission. The release references a proposed consent order that resolves a complaint initiated by the agency alleging that the Guild’s rules restrained competition and harmed consumers in violation of the FTC Act.
The FTC’s announcement is the culmination of 17 months of careful negotiations between the Guild and the Commission. We have previously detailed this process in emails to chapter leaders, articles in TAO, notices on the AGO website, and presentations at the 2016 National Convention.
As part of the settlement agreement, the Guild did not admit to any wrongdoing nor have we been found guilty of any wrongdoing. We will not enter into any litigation, and we will not be subject to any fine.
In settling the FTC’s charges, the AGO agreed it would not restrain its members from soliciting work as musicians, and it would stop issuing compensation schedules and model contract provisions. We also updated our Code of Ethics several times to ensure that we are in full compliance with the FTC’s interpretations of the law. We are taking an aggressive stance toward complying with the terms of the agreement so that we can put this matter behind us.
The FTC press release reiterates what we have been focusing on for the last year. We are now in a 30-day period for public comment on the terms of our agreement with the FTC, but nothing in the agreement changes our core mission.
The AGO is a thriving 120-year-old educational organization that abides by the law. Our Committee on Career Development and Support, working closely with our antitrust legal counsel Claudia Higgins, has already begun the process of developing new educational resources for our members to use in negotiating their salaries and contracts with their employers.
In this holiday season, we express our heartfelt thanks to our dedicated attorney, Claudia Higgins, for her wonderful guidance, and we extend our very best wishes to all for a blessed Easter and a happy Passover.
Michael Bedford, AAGO, ChM
James E. Thomashower, CAE