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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000602.txt from 1996/04

From: Fred Jacobowitz <fredj@-----.EDU>
Subj: Re: Amateur players and paying gigs
Date: Sun, 21 Apr 1996 23:01:02 -0400

Obviously you are not a Union member or you would never say that.
The reason I can demand a living wage for the work I do is that the Union
helped make professional musicians respectable in the eyes of agents,
restauranters, hoteliers, etc. The Union's work on behalf of its members
has allowed us to set a standard of pay, benefits, working conditions
and professional behavior which was not present before the advent of the
A.F. of M. To this day, the Union scale is the benchmark by which
employers gauge how much to pay their non-union musicians and the
standards of workplace conditions, amount of break time, etc. are also
almost universally based on Union regulations. Where do you think these
standards came from anyway? Manna from heaven? The goodness of the club
owners' hearts? I am really disappointed that the American people have
swallowed the anti-Union propaganda spewed out by big business, the rabid
right (who STILL believe that Union is a synonym for COMMIE) and their
attack dogs like Newt Gingrinch; none of whom have the best interest of
us working stiffs at heart.
Our wages ar high enough to make a living at, unlike the
non-unionized flunkies flipping burgers part time. And I don't know about
you but I have never had to play outside in pouring rain or 40-degree
weather in any Union gig I have ever done (tho I did BOTH in my pre-Union
days). And I dispute your contention about the worst of circumstances. If
anything, we get alot more repect and can demand much better working
environments now than before the Union. The problem I have is that the
Union doesn't do ENOUGH because it has grown complacent. This, however,
is rapidly changing and Unions are once-again aggressively pursuing our
I play in a small orchestra which was the victim of an
incompetent, insensitive conductor who ruined alot of peoples' days with
a sham audition. The Union stepped in and made such a fuss that the Board
(which had refused to even acknowledge the musicians' grievances)
repremanded the conductor. This conductor has been quite a bit nicer
since then. And this was BEFORE the orchestra voted to join seek Union
I'm sure there are plenty of stories about lousy Unions (I know
personally of one concerning the Washington, DC local) but to tar the
entire A.F. of M. with that kind of brush is at best naive and at worst,
malicious. It is the only organization which represents musicians in our
country and we need to support it MORE, not knock it down, to the glee of
anti-labor organizations everywhere.

Fred Jacobowitz
Clarinet/Sax instructor, Peabody Preparatory (and proud A.F. of M. member)

On Fri, 19 Apr 1996, Steve Prescott wrote:

> Dan,
> In my humble opinion, the union offers nothing to musicians. We are
> still playing for low wages and many times in the worst of
> circumstances.
> Steve.
> Steve Prescott
> Instrument Rep.Tech./Clarinetist
> Indiana State University

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