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December 07, 2008


Regarding job security, it is my understanding that the formation of the first LA guild allowed the film studios to dismantle their studio orchestras and their contracted musicians. If this is true, we can certainly learn from history.

In Nashville , if you are pals with certain session leaders, and can play great, and play well with others, you get the calls. If you want to get hired you have to hang out and get noticed. Producers hire" leaders "they can trust to put a good recording team together. They just don't call them contractors here in Nashville. There have always been cliques in the recording world. You play ball or you don't get hired. A union can't control that.

Glad you enjoyed my comment, Robert, and I found your response enlightening and interesting.

As to how to deal with job security, the moment the AFM (at the RMA's request, according to one high-ranking musician who was around at the time) let LA's largest contractor become part of the AFM, you have the "perfect storm" that has created the utter absence of job security we now see in the LA recording scene. With the majority of major studio work falling to one contractor, and with that contractor on intimate terms with the RMA leadership not to mention being a member of the RMA and the AFM, there is no more arm's length negotiating, relationship, or business dealings between contractors (who function as agents for employers) and musicians (employees). This utterly defeats the entire job security angle of a union.

After all, the NLRB has consistently said that employers cannot unionize - it's exactly what prevents composers from unionizing, as they are seen as composers since they hire musicians for sessions. Contractors act as agents for an employer, which functionally makes them part of the employer. These people should NOT be part of the AFM, and the AFM should take significant steps to distance themselves from contractors so that arm's length negotiation for better workplace security and working conditions is possible.

This can be scoped to focus only on electronic recording projects since those projects and that marketplace have unique requirements, so casual musicians who are bandleaders can remain part of the AFM. Simply put, when you mix employers and employees in an employee labor union, it's asking for trouble, as Michael T. Moore has pointed out on multiple occasions over the years...

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