[Dixielandjazz] Musician's Union

Bill Gunter jazzboard at hotmail.com
Sat Nov 4 09:58:17 PST 2006


The articulate and knowledgeable Johnny Wilder posted a very enlightening 
story about his Musician's Union experiences. I certainly read about 
Johnny's experiences with great interest!

There is another long long story about negotiations between the AFM and the 
Sacramento Dixieland Jubilee (as it was then known). Bill Borcher (founder 
of the Jubilee) was at the forefront of those negotiations and I got to 
watch all the action being on the Board of Directors at the time.

I won't go into it all, but it was rather funny.  Basically the settlement 
resulted in the loss of "bonus funds" which were paid to the musicians later 
on (after they had been paid for their sets and the remaining funds in the 
Jubilee receipts had been deposited).  The Jubilee worked on their upcoming 
budget and the money left over was distributed to the individual musicians 
in the form of a bonus (which varied from year to year).

The union required a fixed set fee for the musicians and the bonuses 

But it's more complicated than that and I don't want to go into it all.

My favorite union story involves a band I know of and all of the guys were 
union members. The leader wondered why they never got recommended for gigs 
by the local which the union guys had said they would do.

So the leader asked his wife to call the union and pose as a person 
interested in a certain kind of band and ask the union who (whom?) they 
would recommend. She described her husband's band (which was rather unique 
and quite popular).

The union guy said he had "just the band for her" and recommended the band 
led by the president of the union. The wife said that she had heard that 
there was a band called (she named her husband's band) and asked what the 
union thought of them.

The union guy replied that they were an ok band, but that (the band the 
union president led) was far superior and was really the one she should 

The wife thanked the union dude and hung up.

After she told her husband and the rest of the guys in the band about the 
conversation everyone in the band (including the leader) resigned from the 

End of story.

I don't know what is complicated or surprising in stories like these and the 
ones Johnny Wilder related.  That's just the way things operate . . . it's 
SOP (Standard Operating Procedure).

Respectfully submitted,

Bill "Union? What Union?" Gunter
jazzboard at hotmail.com

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