[Dixielandjazz] Another Musician's Union Horror Story

tcashwigg at aol.com tcashwigg at aol.com
Sat Nov 4 22:43:28 PST 2006

Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Another Musician's Union Horror Story

   Dave asks, "Have you ever attended meetings, etc?"

I won't even relate the story of how many union meetings I attended in 
three different locals where I was often Black listed for hiring Black 
Jazz Musicians in White Hotels controlled by the Union Board members 
until I broke thru buy renting the ballrooms and hiring the Black bands 
to play for my events.   They were not even happy that I made each 
Black musician join the damned union and I fronted them the initiation 
fees to do so, and also paid all the work dues on top of their wages to 
the union.

Had the P.A. systems removed from my ballrooms at the orders of the 
union Guido and then was fined for bringing in my own P.A. systems,  
gee dave it might be peachy cool and fair in Atlanta but it sure never 
was anywhere else.   You should try going on the road sometime and stop 
in at a few other locals and see what kind of response and cooperation 
you will get as a "BROTHER" in the Brotherhood of Musicians that still 


And as for the guys talking this trash I assure you everyone of them 
that I know personally makes a whole lot more money than any of us EVER 
made under Union-ship, especially from any gig the Union sent our way, 
in my case "Both of them".   You see there are actually Real 
professional working musicians that get up every day and treat this 
profession like a profession and a real job and therefore do make a 
good decent and often better living on nothing but performing music.   
But it is not all done just for the FUN it is work which all other 
professions and skilled workers must do for 8 hours a day or more to 
earn a living and feed their families and pay their bills.

How many Doctors or Lawyers do you know that make all the money they 
make only working three hours a day or less.

Most Music teachers that I know are working for about $25.00 an hour, 
six to eight hours a day.   While most Dixieland musicians are lucky to 
find  4 hours a week at $40.00 an hour, and I know many of them that 
are lucky to make $25.00 a four hour gig.   Just being a musician and 
being capable of playing an instrument is not longer a guarantee that 
you can make a living, you must also be an entertainer, and a 
reasonably smart business person to negotiate a fair and equitable deal 
for your services, and you should know what your services are worth set 
standards and stick to them.   Compete in QUALITY NOT QUANTITY.   The 
musicians union once did that , when they opted for the quantity rather 
than quality to chase the in-flowing initiation fees and more work dues 
they got greedy and blew the reputation and prestige formerly 
associated with union membership.   As stated above and by Mr. 
Ringwald, They did it to themselves.  Bottom line, and it is traceable 

I would like to believe what you say about Atlanta, but it sound a 
whole lot like what we have been hearing out of Washington DC about how 
well the economy is in America, and how well the WAR IS DOING, we are 
saving Social Security, AND ALLTHE OTHER meaningless muddle spewing out 
of that sewer pipe of mis- information,  which is politically 
correctness for BS & Outright Lies to appease the true believers.

Some of us have lived long enough to have seen History repeat itself 
over and over again, same old stories and tricks just a new flock of 
sheep to fleece by the latest elected by the sheep Shepherd.   Well you 
can lead some horses to water but you still can't make them drink.

I also do not agree with Larry's statement about people thinking that 
Union Musicians means expensive musicians, unless they are also 
clueless and naive dinosaurs working on non profit entertainment 
committees that were trained by the Unions years ago and also never 
changed or reeducated themselves as times changed in the real world.

The next union about to bite the dust is the Stage hands and 
electricians unions in major concert halls and arena venues where they 
have also strangled the promoters and venue operators for years, where 
I have seen many shows where the union non performing help stood around 
all night making more money than the headline acts on the stage that 
the people paid to come and hear.    Right here in my area the city 
closed a 7,000 seat historical venue because the union had made it 
economically un-useable for presenting shows any longer.

Sad but so true,
Tom Wiggins

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