[Dixielandjazz] Musician earnings

LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing sign.guy at charter.net
Mon Oct 11 14:02:07 PDT 2004

St, Louis is one of the lowest paid areas of all large metropolitan cities.  Having said that Non union musicians make more than scale.  There isn't a person in my band that at one time or another hasn't been in the AFM.  I use old union phone lists as my telephone book.

The union here, years ago, ignored the weekend musician and finally they went away.  Non union pay averages (for me) $25 - $50 more a night and no work dues.  I pay my people the same rate that I get (non union) which is higher than the union scale.  Although I remain a union member it's not because I get any benefit from it but solely because I believe that's the way to go.  I can't follow good union policy in hiring union musicians because the best people are non union for the most part.  I hire union when I can but I would simply be out of business if I stuck to the line.

Missouri is one of those misguided states that allows open shops and the musician union is the ones that take it in the neck.  As a contractor of musical services they can't make me hire union musicians and they can't keep me as a Union member from working non union. (especially since it pays more).  Besides that if I quit they wouldn't get my dues.

I tell them that I will gladly give every musician's address and phone number who works for me to them to contact.  They won't even do that so why should I try to be a 100% union contractor or worker?  To top that off I could take you to the union halls here (machinists, brewers etc) and they will have non union bands playing in them.  Unions hiring non union???  They say that it is a private party and they have no control.  That's not true they just don't care.  If they required union bands (they used to) someone might go somewhere else to rent a hall and they wouldn't get the rental.  Money talks as always.

I maintain that if you want good pay musicians have to join together and provide high quality services.  Here, if you are tall enough to get your money on the counter you can join the musician's union.  No tryout, no nothing.  That's insane and that's why no one hires out of the hall.  Who knows what you will get. Until they do join together, both the symphony and show guys with the weekenders, and put quality on the front burner wages will remain low.

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