Archive for February, 2020


Friday, February 14th, 2020

…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
scoring musician

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic musician

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician


  1. AB5 Carrots and Sticks 

Hello All,

The author of AB5, California’s new gig-work law, said Thursday that she’ll seek amendments that remove some restrictions on freelance journalists and photographers, and is eyeing further changes for musicians, small businesses and others, as well as an assistance fund to help small nonprofit arts groups comply.

Gonzalez said she’s calling for $20 million in the state budget to supply grants to small community nonprofit arts organizations “that make a good-faith effort to comply” with the new law. Many small theater, dance and music companies have said they operate on shoestring budgets and simply could not afford to hire all their performers and backstage crews as employees.


In a decision issued on Monday, (2/10/20) Judge Dolly Gee of the Central Court of California wrote that that the court “cannot second guess the Legislature’s choice to enact a law that seeks to uplift the conditions of the majority of non-exempt low-income workers rather than preserve the status quo for the smaller subset of workers who enjoy independent contractor status,” adding that “the balance of equities and the public interest weight in favor of permitting the State to enforce this legislation.”



The above does not change the fact that AB5 is the government telling citizens just under what terms they will be allowed to earn a living.

Gavin Newsom has included 20 million dollars in the budget for enforcement of AB5. Lorena Gonzalez now wants to add another 20 million to entice compliance. Lots of taxpayer dollars going toward a deeply flawed law. 

The ability to earn a legitimate living under one’s own terms should be protected as a fundamental civil right. Too bad Judge Dolly Gee doesn’t agree.



As supervising manager and/or conductor of Opera San Luis Obispo and the Lompoc Pops Orchestra, and, as Principal Conductor for State Street Ballet Santa Barbara and Civic Ballet San Luis Obispo, and, as Principal Guest Conductor of several other entities, every year, I am responsible for the hiring of more than 400 instrumental musicians, 200 choral singers, 60 vocal soloist positions, 40 dancer roles, and lastly, 40 non-performing roles; such as directors, choreographers, stage managers, costume designers, stage assistants, costume assistants, assistant conductors, assistant directors, etc.

ALL OF THESE POSITIONS ARE INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS!!! They take my jobs then move on to the next. Approximately 9% of those jobs are filled by union instrumental musicians – ALL OTHER POSITIONS are held by non-union member HUMAN BEINGS!

This information illustrates several important facts:

1. Union musicians take non-union work all the time.
2. The vast majority of work in classical performing non-profit world is produced by non-union people.
3. Union member musicians MUST take non-union work to survive.

Local 47 has never spoken for musicians. Local 47 is 100% ONLY concerned about collecting dues to fill the pockets of its executive leadership. AB5 will be overthrown and this entire negative experience suffered by artists throughout California will be remembered, recanted, and used to inspire individual union cessation, encouragement for companies to cut union ties, and finally to inform board members, patrons, and donors all around California how critical it is that they understand how utterly useless musical unionism is in today’s classical performing arts business model. AB5 will forever justify how UNNECESSARY it’s is for an orchestra to consider union membership or ANY collective bargaining negotiation.


Thank you for taking the time to post this! If you haven’t already done so, please consider posting this (in it’s entirety) on all of the AB5 Facebook groups such as California Independent Music Professionals United, Freelancers Against AB5, etc. You are in a unique position to effectively illustrate how many different freelance positions are filled by both union and nonunion INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS. AB5 will destroy these peoples’ livelihoods.


It really is all hands on deck to get this earnings killer repealed! It doesn’t matter your political bent if your government is responsible for you not being able to make a legitimate living. AB5 is an equal opportunity destroyer.


The Committee


Monday, February 10th, 2020

…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
scoring musician

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic musician

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician



AB-5’s hidden agenda.

AB-5, CMG News, Industry Updates

As we all scramble to understand how AB-5 works and what it will mean to our own livelihood, it is important to understand the hidden agenda behind the law.  It is a well-planned and heavily financed campaign to drive people back to labor unions. The AFL-CIO and individual labor unions like the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) all want “a sea change” in union participation across the board.  While this may be the best option for janitors, construction workers, taxi drivers, etc., it is NOT the best option for independent music professionals. The unions have deep pockets, a deep bench, and they feel that if some nonunion musicians, contractors, orchestras, or opera companies go out of business because of AB-5, that is acceptable collateral damage to them.  It strengthens the unions’ stance in the long run. 

Music professionals successfully figured out long ago how to make a great living as Independent Contractors.  They set their own schedules, determined their own rates, paid taxes, bought their own health insurance, etc.   This business model works for us! We were never part of the disenfranchised, misclassified worker pool. If we didn’t like the pay scale for a particular project, we simply turned it down and moved on to the next project. No harm, no foul.  In light of the January 29, 2020 article in the LA Times, “How AB5 has instilled fear and confusion in California’s arts community“,  it is important to point out that independent music professionals have negotiated pay rates that far exceed the minimum wage, and often exceed AFM’s rates.  We worked hard for this!  

Supporters of AB5 suggest that misclassified workers account for billions of dollars of unpaid tax revenue and place an unacceptable drain on social services such as healthcare (Lorena Gonzalez mentioned this in her first interview with KUSI.).  In the case of music professionals, this is simply not true. We carry our own health insurance and pay self-employment taxes in lieu of payroll taxes. Self-employment taxes combine the employee and employer portions of the Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes that employers withhold from their employees’ pay.  

The bottom line is AB-5 does not work for music professionals.  Further, compliance with a law that does not fit the industry is ludicrous.  An exemption or repeal is not likely to happen quickly as both solutions will need to go through the legislative process and calendar.  We need to commit to staying the course. We urge you to continue to write and call your state legislators! They keep track of the number of letters and calls in order to gauge the importance/impact of an issue, so be sure to call them daily!  



ALERT: Please note that there is a Congressional bill HR2747 recently introduced that would impose AB5 on a national level!

If you thought you could just move out of California to escape this…?  Act now or forever look back on the day when you were in charge of your own life. 

The following was copied from the Internet…

Subject: ACTION NEEDED: Pass AB1928 to IMMEDIATELY Repeal AB5!

  Yesterday Asm. Kevin Kiley and Asm. Melissa Melendez circulated AB1928, an urgency bill that would immediately repeal AB5, to their colleagues in the Capitol and asked them to co-sponsor this vital legislation. It’s time for all of us to TAKE ACTION. Please contact your Assemblymember and Senator by phone and email and ask them to co-sponsor AB1928 and pressure leadership to bring it to a vote as soon as possible. Here’s a script if you need it: “Hello, my name is ____________________ and I am a constituent. I’m calling to tell Mr/Mrs Assemblyman Whoever that AB5 is hurting me and my ability to earn a living and pay taxes. As it stands now, AB5 is unworkable and unfixable. I hope Assemblyman Whoever will co-sponsor AB1928, a full repeal, and work to bring it to a vote ASAP so I can get back to work. Thank you. Have a wonderful day.” FIND MY CA REP Also, HR 2474, the federal version of AB5, is up for a floor vote in the House of Representatives. It’s crucial that you CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE and ask them to vote NO. Here’s a script: “Hello, my name is ____________________ and I am a constituent. I’m calling to tell Mr/Ms Congressperson Whoever that I hope they will vote NO on HR 2474. It is a copy of California’s AB5, which is hurting me and my ability to earn a living and pay taxes. It’s destroying the arts, independent journalism, youth sports, and after-school tutoring programs. HR 2474 will take a failed policy nationwide and hurt millions of Americans. Thank you. Have a wonderful day.” If you feel comfortable telling your story before Congress, you can even mention that you’d be willing to testify in Congressional hearings on the matter. To find your Congressmember’s contact information, click here. FIND MY CONGRESSPERSON And, please SHARE this information far and wide. You can forward this email or post a link to it on your social media accounts. 



The following was sent to ABC7, KTLA and Fox11. So far there has been no response…the media silence on this issue is deafening. 

Dear Media Entity, 

AB5 is having a devastating effect on the ability of the freelance/independent contractor to earn a living.  Literally hundreds of thousands of freelancers are finding themselves scrambling to cover the loss of personal and economic liberty. 

It has become apparent that this bill promoted as ‘worker protection’ is really just a power grab by unions dangling the prospect of more state revenue in the faces of our elected representatives.  The California legislature has been commandeered by the unions.  

This law forces freelancers into an employer-employee relationship making that relationship ripe for union organizing.  The unions want no competition in the marketplace. 

The ability to earn an honest living under one’s own terms should be a fundamental civil right. 

The media has remained aloof as this assault on the freelance worker plays out. The law which took effect on January 1, 2020 is having a real and palpable impact on the economic and social fabric of California. 

I am asking that the media cover this important issue…or maybe you can’t.

Full Time Freelancer
Los Angeles



These are the words of the President of Local 47.

President Acosta made it very clear…”AB5 will not be repealed”…”..we are looking out for the music ecosystem”…”the musicians union sets the standard for non-union workers”…”we want to organize musicians”…”we might have openness to amendments”… (Implicit in that last statement is that the unions are in control).

G. Lasley, Sec-Treas was sent to Sacramento on 2/3/20 to lobby in favor of AB5. 
The AFM is part of the AFL-CIO.  Their shield will be they had no choice… Sure…


Well, I just had two chamber performances canceled because the presenter does not want to change from a 1099. I completely understand. A COMPLETELY ridiculous law.
I am actually now moving some of my recording projects to Nashville. It will just be a lot more comfortable. Our union is living with contract language designed for the ’80s.
A friend of mine (string player) in London just finished recording his 8th film since January 1st. They could have ALL been here without residual payments.


By the time September comes around for a vote on any exemption for musicians…it will be too late. The landscape will have changed and the work will not be coming back.


I firmly believe that the unions (not just AFM) will be in control of which exemptions are allowed or rejected. AB5 was sponsored by unions. It was written by the unions, for the unions. The little guy isn’t being heard. The pessimist in me says he doesn’t even have a seat at the table. The optimist in me says “YET!”



As has already been pointed out by this blog and many others, the President / Board of Local 47 and the AFM are totally in the bag for AB5. Many groups, opera companies, orchestras and other entities (musical or not) have had to close or leave the state.

Now they’re trying to take the law nationwide in the hopes of forcing everyone to rejoin or join a union. The committee fully supports honest unions and its members have had decades of membership in such organizations, but the Los Angeles Local 47 and the AFM in general has proven again and again that they are not worthy of your support, unless you’re “part of the club”. In LA that means part of the 1 percent or so of membership who get steady union work. The rest? They just want your money and to have you sit down and shut up as the 1 percent do most or all of the recording work.

Don’t kid yourself, virtually all musicians do non-union work. Musicians at the highest levels of our industry do non-union work. We all know who they are, but we choose not to out them. After all, if they’re “in the club” they’ll get a pass anyway and the person who reported them will be the “bad guy”. Hypocrisy at the highest level.

In 1983, Local 47 in Los Angeles had over 13,000 members. Today? 2020? About 6,200 members. The drastic loss in membership is not because of politics, or because people have been undermining the union. The union has brought it upon itself. It is because more and more people have realized the union does nothing for them but take their money, then try to fine them if they work to pay their bills with the only work available to them… nonunion work.

So now the biggest labor entities are joining together for their own version of  “Animal Farm.”

Don’t let them do it.

Fight AB5 and the nationwide version HR2747!

Call your representatives. Fight for our right to work on our own terms.

Until next time,

The Committee