GREETINGS Fellow Local 47 Colleagues!,

Following our printing of the letter of the Local’s Secretary
Treasurer Serena Kay Williams, we got a number of
responses we wanted to share with you.

To Recap, here is the letter Serena sent:

To; Committee for a More Responsible 47
From: Serena Kay Williams, Secretary-Treasurer
Re: Your Email Correspondence of June 9, 2005
Date: June 9, 2005

Having read and re-read the collection of emails attributed to
your committee, I find I must alter my original belief that your
Committee was claiming to “represent Local 47”. Upon
re-reading your series of emails, it has become clear that
you never intended to represent the Local, but that you are,
instead, a group of members who are sharing their concerns
with one another.

Now that I have a clearer understanding of who you are, I want
to let you know that I have decided to refrain from directing
Local 47’s attorney to take any action regarding your

Your letter of June 9 makes clear an undeniable point:
all Local 47 members deserve the right to freely express
themselves. Please know that I will continue to respect this
right, and that I will continue to do the work that Local 47
members have elected me to do for two decades.

As stated in my previous message, I offer you an invitation
to meet with me, face-to-face. I have found that clear, open
communication is the best way to foster unity, clarify problems,
and craft solutions. Of course, if you choose to remain
anonymous, I will respect your wishes.

Thanks for your time and continued support!

Serena Kay Williams

Here are the comments that letter that this episode generated,
if any of these happen to be repeats we apologize:

Dear Serena, after having read your letter to the committee,
it again becomes quite clear why you have been re-elected to
your post time after time. You are even handed, articulate,
fair, honest, considerate, and so obviously have the welfare of
the union membership always utmost in mind.
I am proud to know you.


Dear Serena Kay Williams,

As to your letter in which you state “Now that I have a clearer
understanding of who you are, I want to let you know that I have
decided to refrain from directing Local 47’s attorney to take
any action regarding your communications.”:

I think it’s mighty big of you to “decide to refrain” on an
issue you created in your head without proper research. We
members can really count on you to keep a clear, open dialogue
without intimidation tactics at the fore. In sum, what a
colossal nerve you have. Clearly you have been taking lessons
from our repressive Republican white house.

Signed, a member in good standing for at least the same last two
decades you’ve been in office.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: We did find it rather ironic that she would
do us the FAVOR of refraining, since we had done nothing
wrong and would only waste the union’s money. It DID
however, enable her to not actually apologize, which we
noticed but thought it best and more mature to simply move on.)


Bravo Serena!


I read with interest your email from Serena Williams
and your response. It seems to be the typical
response from the local when anyone poses an
alternative to the status quo is to call out the
lawyers. This is one reason why no one really wants
to voice their real opinion. I’m all for a strong
union to protect film/tv musicians from the studios
who would abuse the musicians if giving half a chance.
But I, like you, would like to see more equity among
ALL the recording musicians. The union has no
incentive to change. Those who aren’t on the “A-list”
still pay their dues. And who could blame them for not
wanting to change. They have a good thing going and
any change threatens that. Quite frankly, I don’t even
know why musicians come to L.A. anymore. In Seattle
they have a much better chance of working.

If you really want to get the union in an uproar, ask
about “core status.” Apparently it is an option that
is available to all union members but, of course the
union doesn’t mention it. The way I understand it,
core status allows people to work union AND non union
jobs without any penalty. Plus you pay less in annual
dues and maybe even less in work dues. Of course you
would run the risk of being blacklisted if word got
out you were core status. You probably would never
work on the big projects if people knew you were core.
I don’t know the ramifications to the solidarity of
the union if a lot of people chose this status. But I
know the union is fractured as we speak.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Core status IS an option for being
a member of the union. As we understand it, You
cannot vote in union elections and you do not
receive the Overture for free (You have to buy a
subscription), but you can do ANY job, union or
not and the union cannot penalize you, at least
not officially. We do not know whether the union
fees are less, we will research it for you. The poster
above IS correct that anyone who goes core status
will probably never see the higher end gigs, unless
your clout is such that your position cannot be
compromised. The less this union does for the
membership the more likely some will see the
writing on the wall and go for this status. )


I’ve always found your email messages well-written,
thoughtful, fair and (bottom-line) quite clear on the
issue of representation. Please continue, without fear
of intimidation, along those same lines.


I never responded to one of these before but I think
now it’s time.
(Basically I’m down with everything you’re all talking about).
I’ve been a 47 member since 1990. I actually had to
audition in front of Serena to prove I was a player. Anyway,
to make a long story short. I haven’t done a union gig in
two years. I support myself playing music.
Hell, I’ve been averaging two sessions a week for the last
couple of years – just none of it union. I think this is a f***ing
travesty. Let’s not even talk about club gigs and casuals. Most
of the working players I know could relate the same situation.
I don’t really know what my point is other than that I’m feelin’
the brotherhood. Keep up the dialogue.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This poster brings up a great point. Please write
us and tell if we are mistaken, but you do NOT have to audition
to be a member of this union any more. Can you imagine that?
Try joining an electrical or machinist union without having to
show skills!

Of course, this little change in procedure a few years ago
worked out quite well in getting a contractor into the union
ranks to get the union benefits and to build their influence
without having to actually PLAY an instrument.

This situation is absurd. It is the committee’s position that
if you are going to be a member of this union you should be
able to show proficiency in some musical area OTHER than
contracting or management. This is just one of the many areas
where the local needs to be brought into line.)


You just keep on Keeping on.
I support you 1000%.
People who have the guts to take a stand and to try to make a
difference whilst taking all the slings and arrows are truly an
asset to this union.

Something is really funny to me though. Something that most
“democracy loving people” seem to forget – A LOT!

For something to truly be a democracy – that thing is a really
ephemeral thing. It is an IDEA that lives in the hearts and minds
of people and cannot be destroyed by physical means. You can
destroy it’s symbol (burning the flag) but you can’t destroy it,
because of where it lives and resides – which is in the hearts
and minds of people. An ephemeral/almost spiritual thing
cannot be destroyed via physical means. You have to be able
to criticize it, poke it, even spit on it for it to truly be something
you can fight for – something that can really stand up to the
“heat”. Most Conservative “Christian” Republicans forget about
this and they confuse the act of desecrating a symbol with the
desecration of the idea. (Yet the idea still remains!- funny)

They see it as extremely distasteful and bad manners. But
something as bold and as noble as “Democracy” or “Free Speech”
cannot be harmed by a mere destruction of it’s symbol.

Maybe my point will be better illustrated by this anecdote:
A Soldier-friend of mine served in Vietnam, was shot at,
wounded, sent home and when he returned through customs
at LAX in the early seventies there were protests. They were
angry sometimes violent protests directed at the Soldiers
returning home. My friend came out of Customs only to be
spat upon by a protester and another person who witnessed
that was admonishing the spitter and was going to take physical
action when the soldier turned and said to both of them –
“You don’t understand, that (and he pointed to the spit and the
spitter) is what I was fighting for.”

Both the Spitter and the guy admonishing the spitter turned
and stood dumbstruck for a few moments while the realization
of what freedom of expression truly is and both apologized and
shook my friend’s hand.


That’s all for now. Keep your concert announcements, comments
and ideas coming folks.

Till next time,


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