I just came from a wonderful weekend teaching at the MA Chapter of AMTA. What a great group of people. I was there four years ago for their 50th anniversary, and personally know many of the members there. It was fun to see them and meet some new ones.
A few weeks ago I was at the IL Chapter. In between, I attended the annual meeting of my own chapter in NC. At all three of these conferences, I attended the business meeting and heard the treasurer’s report.
This weekend in MA, National President-Elect Jeff Smoot, who was there to speak at the meeting, was put on the hot-seat by a member who questioned National’s move to make Chapter fees voluntary. The member actually asked outgoing Chapter President Mary White, and she deferred the question to Smoot. Smoot replied that good things were happening that would be announced in September, and that it had been a unanimous decision of the Board of Directors. He also stated that the chapter fees had originally been intended to help with legislation, and that now that 45 states are licensing, there was not the need for it that there once was. I am personally begging them to reconsider. Any practice act can come under the gun at any time. Our chapters need lobbyists and attorneys to protect our interests. We need our own local people that are familiar with the laws and known to the legislators in our own states.
AMTA is SUPPOSED TO BE a member-driven organization. I’ve been a member for more than 10 years. I love my state chapter. I have been impressed with every chapter I’ve ever been to. Every one of them is filled with enthusiastic people with a passion for massage and volunteerism.
What really ticks me off is that the members were not consulted on this decision, which was apparently made last year during the BOD meeting at the National Convention in DFW, behind closed doors. I had questioned the ethics of this decision earlier as being conducted in a manner that was less than transparent, and was told that AMTA’s attorneys sanctioned the secrecy because competitors were present in the open meeting. The Chapters were not immediately informed, either. Budgets that had already been prepared for the coming year had to be redone. And yes, it is having an impact, in spite of National’s claim that they are making this up to the chapters in other ways.
The MA Chapter is a prime example. They have for years donated $10,000 annually to the Massage Therapy Foundation. That had to be revised down to $1050 this year. There are other chapters that have been very generous to the Foundation. I fear they will not be able to afford that support now, and that the Chapter’s ability to provide great local education opportunities is going to suffer, too.
To add fuel to the fire, I received a copy of the following solicitation today that Massage Magazine Insurance Plus, an arm of the company owned by Joe Doyle, sent to all the state chapters:
Now that AMTA has discontinued the requirement to support state chapters with every membership, how will each state support their LMT’s and the industry at large?
At Insurance Plus, we have an opportunity for you to continue to drive revenue for your state chapter while also providing incremental insurance coverage’s for stolen equipment and identify theft protection above what AMTA has offered to their members. All at a savings of $75 off of AMTA’s membership fee.
At MASSAGE Magazine Insurance Plus, we are always looking for more ways to support the Massage industry either through school communications, print and digital publications as well as being a leader in liability coverage by providing significant coverage’s, at record low pricing. We would like to take a portion of our cost ($20 for professional policies and $8 for student policies) and pass that along to your association for each policy that is directed by you and your site.
Insurance Plus has the highest rating in the industry, A++ underwritten by MedPro, a Berkshire Hathaway/Warren Buffett company.
I will give Joe Doyle credit for his brazen behavior in seizing the moment. He’s too smart to think AMTA wouldn’t immediately respond to that, which they did, with the following letter to all the chapters:
Dear Chapter Leaders:
By now, you probably have seen a solicitation from Massage Magazine Insurance Plus about partnering with the chapter. This solicitation is illegal and unauthorized. AMTA has consulted with legal counsel, and chapters should not respond in any way to the solicitation. Beyond policy issues, there are other legal matters raised by the solicitation. If you have any questions, please reply to this email.
AMTA Chapter Relations
My guess is that might also get the magazine dis-invited to the National Convention, but you never know. Freedom of the press and all that.
I urge all AMTA members to continue to support your chapters. I further urge you to contact the Board of Directors and tell them you a) do not appreciate being left out of this decision and b) you do not support this move. You can do that here.