[Dixielandjazz] Musician's Union

tcashwigg at aol.com tcashwigg at aol.com
Sat Nov 4 21:09:53 PST 2006

In all fairness and respect for Dave with his constant praise for the 
AFof M,  I would venture to say that the Atlanta Local must indeed be 
the NEW MODEL POSTER LOCAL FOR THEM, however I have never seen another 
local in the USA that is any where close to anything other than what 
has been written here Believe me Dave, I have no axe to grind as I have 
stated before on this issue,  But it is indeed a Fact that these 
Stories you have heard before are indeed TRUE and there are many many 
more  of them where these came from and many more that just never 
surfaced and many that will not because the victims and perpetrators 
are both dead.

And yes I did get involved with the locals  three of them here, and 
they were all more corrupt than even stated here on this thread, what 
you are reading here was just business as usual it was actually a whole 
lot worse not to mention the 96% membership unemployment rate.

You guys must surely remember that both Unions and Insurance Companies 
were invented by the same corporation that Guido and all his cousins 
worked for.     Which reminds me of the meeting of the Italian Jazz 
club owners association held in Jersey, when Guido offered his 
sincerest condolences for Gussippie's club tragically burning down,  
whereupon Gussippie leaned over and said to Guido " ssssshhh   it's 
tomorrow Guido tomorrow"   :))

Pretty much explains how the Musicians Union operated under all those 
guys with the Italian names  and they ran most of them across the 
country that I encountered, and all their cousins owned and operated 
almost all the night clubs too, and their cousins owned the jukebox 
businesses in all of them and the cigarette vending machines, condom 
machines, and the punch boards, liquor distributorships,  and need I go 
on and on and on, I believe they even owned most of Las Vegas for while 
too , but those days are long gone with the characters that ran things, 
now they are all run by their Family corporations :))

So you see Dave it is no big surprise that most of the locals simply 
had no balls against enforcement of any rule on nightclub owners who 
stiffed musicians  and wrote them bad check routinely that the union 
made no attempt to collect on, and when a victimized member complained 
to the local they were black listed and considered trouble makers and 
suddenly could not BUY a gig in a club in that local, and sometime the 
word was spread to all the locals to treat them member the same way.

And it goes on and on and on,  I am thrilled that Atlanta has fixed 
that problem,  so let's all move to Atlanta and start booking all those 
good gigs and see how long it lasts.

Cheers,  and enjoy the good new days as long as the last Dave.   and I 
mean that sincerely man.

-----Original Message-----
From: barbonestreet at earthlink.net
To: dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
Sent: Sat, 4 Nov 2006 2:17 PM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Musician's Union

    When, in 1950, I first joined Local 802, AF of M in New York City, 
like Don,
I had to take a test. I did come with some help from clarinetist Hank
D'Amico and trombonist Charlie Butterfield, both of who were studio
musicians and had some clout. Plus, I had recently joined a band that 
just gotten a 6 month steady weekend gig under union contract rules.
Otherwise, I think I would not have passed the first time.

The local was VERY STRONG back then. You couldn't work a NYC gig (in 
any venue) without being a member. The business agents would come 
around and
check your card, as well as the contract which had to be on file at the
venue. If a club was not in line, they would picket and/or send Guido 
to persuade the owner to book union musicians.

The union also ran a hiring hall, like the dock workers shape ups. It 
was at
Roseland, every Tuesday. Musicians and contractors would show up there 
network. Everyone schmoozing everyone else. And that's how the jazz 
like Erwin or Cutshall or whomever, got the higher paying private party 
with Lester Lanin, or Meyer Davis. That's why Condon worked with so many
musicians. He had to, because he often had to sub when a regular got a 
lucrative casual. Any muso who was make a living performing, showed up.

That's how it was until I left NYC in 1962. When I did so, I quit 
and 2 years later, dropped my membership.

Thirty years later, when I retired from my day gig and started playing 
I discovered that most gigs in Philadelphia, Washington/Baltimore, 
City, etc., where I sought musical work were non union. Even the hotel 
were non-union. So I never re-joined.

But I did stay aware of the union scales. (One guy in the band retains 
membership) and never undercut them. In fact, never came close to
undercutting them.

Bottom line is that in this area, the unions are pretty much dead 
except for
symphony players. And the "union supplied" gigs, (very few) pay scale, 
is horribly low.

If things were like they were when I was a kid in NYC, I'd join the 
union in
a heartbeat, but times have changed, at least in this area. Basically
because the demand for live music is much less than it was in the 
1950s, and
there are far too many musicians around who give their services away 
regard for those who depend upon the performance of music for a living.

I think Dave Hansen's situation in Atlanta is different.

Steve Barbone

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