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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000528.txt from 1997/09

From: "Edwin V. Lacy" <>
Subj: Re: Prof. Musician: Employee or Contract Labor
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 1997 16:06:01 -0400

On Wed, 10 Sep 1997, Robt. Walzel wrote:

> I play in the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra with about an
> $850,000 budget and a season of about 60 services. We are not a union
> orchestra, as there is no music union in Lubbock. However, there are about
> 6 or 8 musicians, including myself, who belong to locals in other cities.
> Our symphony management in their infinite ignoranace tries to save itself
> money by declaring musicians as contract labor rather than employees. Each
> year they issue us 1099 rather than W-2 income tax statements.

I play in the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra (Indiana), which also is a
per-service, metropolitan class orchestra. Our season is about 85
services per year, with a budget of $1.4+ million. For over 60 years,
there was a local of the musicians union here. However, the local
leadership of the union was so inept and corrupt that membership declined,
and the international union eventually closed the local and transferred
the territory to the Nashville local! (165 miles and two states away!) I
don't think anyone in Nashville knows that we exist. But, anyway, even
before this occurred, we were a non-union, but organized orchestra. We
had found that the musician's union officials were no help to us
whatsoever in negotiations, so we held a proper election, and elected our
players committee as our official representative in all contractual
matters with the orchestra. Some people from outside the area, for
example candidates for administrative positions, when seeing our contract
say that you can't tell that we are a non-union orchestra.

Relationships between players, managers and boards are always difficult,
and players have to take the lead in making sure that things are organized
in such a way as to benefit the orchestra - the ENTIRE orchestra,
including administration and public, not just the more narrow concerns of
the players regarding economic issues. Each group will have to work out
for themselves the best way of doing that. For us, what seems to be
working is a detailed contract, negotiated between the orchestra
management and the players committee. It helps that our general managers
have been familiar with situations where there are union negotiated
contracts which have to be observed to the letter. They are used to
paying attention to the provisions of the contract. However,
occasionally, we have to remind them to be cognizant of that.

Ed Lacy
Dr. Edwin Lacy University of Evansville
Professor of Music 1800 Lincoln Avenue
Evansville, IN 47722 (812)479-2754

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