[Dixielandjazz] Joining The Musicians Union (AFM for purposes ofthis email)

Larry Walton Entertainment - St. Louis larrys.bands at charter.net
Fri Nov 3 23:05:52 PST 2006

I am a  union member Local 2-197 and have been for a long time.  It hasn't 
always been pleasant and I don't make anything from union jobs.  I make 
above scale almost always on gigs I play without them.  You are worth what 
you think you are worth and what the traffic will bear.

There are many problems with the unions and I no longer let them tell me how 
to run a business.  Will they throw me out - I don't think so.  I have been 
in and out of the unions ever since I was in high school.

My first agent insisted we be in the union.  I enjoyed a lot of jobs that I 
might not have gotten if I had not been in the local.  When I came to St. 
Louis in 1965 I started to get the bad of it too.

Why do I stay in?  Almost every musician who is any good is not in the local 
and they don't do much for musicians who aren't full time.

I stay in because I feel that unions are important for working people.  That 
view isn't shared by very many people but I see how workers are used by 
large companies.  I was misused by the state when I worked for them.  Over 
30 years I put in thousands of hours of overtime without one cent of 
compensation and I had little choice in the matter.  There is a huge 
controversy right now over Wal Mart and their business practices.  One of 
which is the hiring of only part time people so they don't have to pay 

The musicians union is practically useless but I guess I'm a true believer. 
I think they are starting to try to help out the guys in the trenches who 
aren't symphony musicians or the guys that play the shows.

The thing that would improve the local here the most is to ask musicians to 
audition to see if they actually were musicians.

It's sad but I couldn't put together a band if I had to hire only union 
musicians.  I feel sorry for the guys who work for nothing and think they 
are doing something great for themselves and music.  The bar bands that work 
for drinks and maybe $50 if they are lucky and The big band guys who are 
convinced that they can only get $50 to play.  I guess they feel cool around 
the water cooler on Monday if they can tell their friends that they played a 
gig at a hotel or something over the weekend.  Maybe cool is worth another 
$50 to them but I think they are misguided.

I suppose that I am pretty much in the minority but I consider myself to be 
a professional musician and I think that professional musicians should be in 
a professional organization that is promoting professional music for a 
decent wage.  Unfortunately it doesn't really work that way.
St. Louis
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Mike" <mike at railroadstjazzwest.com>
To: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Friday, November 03, 2006 5:52 PM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Joining The Musicians Union (AFM for purposes 
ofthis email)

>I am curious to how many present on the list are union members. I am
> curious to the benefits there are in joining the union as well as some
> personal experiences. I have been told that whether or not a musician
> should join the union depends heavily on the state that he or she is in.
>  Some states, I am told invoke the right to work laws.
> Thanks,
> Mike
> _______________________________________________
> Dixielandjazz mailing list
> Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
> http://ml.islandnet.com/mailman/listinfo/dixielandjazz

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