Local 47 Brothers and Sisters,

Almost exactly one year ago this Monday, the membership of Local 47 did
an extraordinary thing. After being shut out of our own Local’s proceedings for over two years we took our voice back, and in the year that followed we made great strides in expanding that voice.

Now, one year later, Elements of the RMALA and the Espinosa Administration (represented by RMA VP Marc Sazer and Gary Lasley from the Espinosa Ticket) are trying to take it away. The RMALA has sent out more emails and made more phone calls than we have ever witnessed before to tell their members in no uncertain terms that they are expected to show up and vote the RMA way.

If you don’t think losing your voice in our Local will affect you, think

-If you’re a casual or orchestral player – Want to take up your interests
at a membership meeting? Forget it. 50 players you could get, 170? Not a chance. Do you teach? Should any subject come up that you want to be heard on en mass, like using
Selas for H and W and pension, forget it, you’ll never get 170.

Losing our voice is very easy. Getting it back will be infinitely harder
if we don’t protect it now.


It will be a full house so come early and share some food with your
fellow Local 47 Colleagues.

II. See the RMA’s latest?

Their argument is “It’s the Marketplace”. Certainly their business practices and some other issues running work out of town is a prime example of the “Marketplace”, but why is the “marketplace” not a good excuse for the situation with film scoring within LA?


Only one contractor is represented or has an exclusive relationship with the agency that represents most mid to high level composers working in film, and when those composers are told who they have to use for contracting, in most cases they must go along. We’ve all heard examples of those in the past who have seen the effect of this monopoly and said, “No way! I’m using who I want.” In many cases those projects have gone out of town rather than bow to the political realities here. THAT is inexcusable.

That exclusive relationship with the agency that represents most of the medium and higher echelon film composers DOES create a monopoly. The RMA knows this, and most LOCAL 47 members know this. They’re simply blowing more smoke.




The proposed Resolutions to be voted on next Monday night have one purpose only – to eliminate and bar the general membership’s participation in our Union.

Several years ago when the Local 47 Board imposed a quorum of 100, no membership meetings were held for 2 years! Last April the membership became so angry they flooded a meeting and voted to change the quorum back to 50, the average number at a meeting. Now the current administration and the RMA want to raise the quorum to 170! In other words, if it passes, we will NEVER have a meeting unless THEY want a meeting. This goes against everything the union stands for. There are obviously different interest groups within our membership. And each should have their voice – at a membership meeting.

Right now a very serious attempt is being made behind closed doors to affect film scoring, live performance, benefits, services, and the future of our Local and the Federation without participation of the general membership. If these Resolutions pass, the disenfranchisement of the general membership will be complete and institutionalized.

Join me Monday night, April 23, 7pm, at Local 47 to defeat these dangerous Resolutions!

David Schubach

Dear weekday warrior (and my fellow union musicians):

In response to your letter about the “committee,” the AFM, your fellow elite recording musicians, and the remainder of YOUR union members, I think it’s high time for a reality check on the whole situation.

The first chunk of your letter attacks “the committee” because they wish to remain anonymous. Would you give them one ounce of more credibility if you knew their identities? Doubtful. It would just give you more targets. Certainly you have some valid points, But so does the “committee;” so do its readers, and so do I. In this case, your letter spits in absolutes and condemns the messenger, not for the merits of the message it brings, but for the mask it necessarily wears in which to deliver it.

You had your history lesson; now hear mine: Over the last couple of decades or so in our market, a power structure has evolved in the recording of music. And the rest of the world responded. That structure has one dominant contractor controlling so much of the workflow that it could be considered a near-monopoly. This person largely has the clout to determine who orchestrates the music, who copies it, who conducts it, who plays it, where it gets recorded, when it gets recorded, and how it gets payrolled. This person was instrumental in the creation and the actions of the RMA, which has come to control the negotiation of the contracts under which all this work gets done and the larger union local that houses and sustains it. With the ability to make or break careers by the granting or withholding of work, this person (like a Mafia don) has come to control the union votes of a significant number of both working and nonworking (but oh-so hopeful) recording musicians. This has led to a current union local leadership which, directly or indirectly, protects this monopoly and does it’s bidding while neglecting all benefits and services associated with non-recording musicians. It is impossible to objectively discuss the problems of the recording industry without taking into account the effects from this monopoly which controls the careers of hundreds of musicians, the grossly-inflated budgets that producers must pay (or go elsewhere) and the union which is charged with the enforcing the fairness of this work environment.

And this person who controls it is not even a musician. Never was. Never will be.

Now back to your letter. ‘Have you ever thought that the recording elite are the recording elite because they … do the best job of anyone available???” I used to. Then I saw the rise of “professional wrestling.” With your mindset I’ll bet you think the winning WWF wrestler really is the most athletic, skilled, and aware competitor on the mat. Of course we all know that the winner is picked, not by true competition, but by deals made in some corporate office somewhere, usually for ratings, and always for maximum profit. Well, thanks to this monopoly, we musicians have become professional wrestlers. The only difference is that, unlike the wrestlers, we have trained our whole lifetimes in the pursuit of excellence at what we do. But the same fix is in.

Don’t EVER think that the fact that you are working (like the pro wrestler who wins) really means that you are the best. Unless you are one of the very rare ones truly touched by the finger of God (in which case you had better learn some freaking humility, ’cause God can take it all back with one car accident or adverse medical report) it merely means that you have gotten the approval, however temporarily, of one person in an office somewhere who never took the time to learn to play a note. The references lately to the average union musician as a “hobbyist” and “weekend warrior” judges him not by the size and duration of the sacrifice he has made on the altar of his art, but by the size of the pucker marks he has made on certain posterior(s) and the amount of his Secondary Market Fund check. How snotty. The lack of level competition in the contracting and production of union recording sessions has led to both artificially-boosted and just-as-artificially-retarded careers, bloated budgets which have producers shaking their heads when the question of union recording comes up, and career alliances which get shattered the minute someone becomes successful and suddenly discovers that he must now hire somebody’s cousin Tony instead of the orchestrator or copyist or conductor or brass section with which he has worked all his career. This monopoly corrupts the whole process and will eventually collapse under its own bloated-budgetary weight the minute a viable and leaner alternative (perhaps in the form of an L.A. union financial-core-status orchestra?) becomes available.

Don’t get me wrong; the RMA has done quite well at what it set out to do: sell the true benefits to producers of the secondary market fund, create new scales which reflect some hard realities, and negotiate intelligently on behalf of those who get the work. However, its abysmal indifference to this monopoly really shows that it works largely and probably exclusively on behalf of those who benefit FROM this monopoly. Since that accounts for a minority of its members, and by extension a tiny minority of Local 47’s members, there must be something not quite noble in the way it commands such slavish support from quite a few musicians. Does it really pass your smell test? Sure it’s open to everybody, but history has shown that most of the members are and will continue to be part-timers, not even qualifying for their benefits. Gee, does that make them the hobbyists and weekend warriors for whom you have such an incredible disdain? Make sure you stand up and announce THAT at your next RMA meeting!

Your history lesson about how hard it was in the “good old days” was entertaining. Are you seriously equating the inequities of the old days with the forces working against full employment now? You listed most of them (“computers, synthesizers…”) Given the numbers employed then against the pool of available musicians, I would gladly compare the average full-timer then to the average one today and I think you must agree that one has to be better-skilled, more humble, and less-substance-addicted today to even be out of work than to be working at the back end of the section then. And lastly, while it is true that the AFM in New York played some neglectful role in the problems of our industry out here, how can you completely ignore the RMA’s much larger one in the care and feeding of this monopoly and not point the other three fingers at it? And with so many musicians working in fear for their careers, you wonder why the “committee,” and its hard-won readership, wishes to do its work anonymously? Is that the best you can do? Dump on the messenger?

If you doubt any of these observations, please come to the general membership meeting on Monday and watch it in action. You can tell your kids you were there the night your union tried to commit suicide. Don’t let it succeed.


General response to some of the last comments:

I think there is an inherent misunderstanding by some of the members’ comments regarding a few key points. First of all, in regard to “the Committee’s” anonymity, those who are suspicious as to why identities have been kept hidden is in my opinion a bit irrelevant to the open discussion we are all reading insofar as opposing viewpoints ARE displayed and while there may be biased accusations or even truths expressed, they are certainly open to discovering the facts of the situation. I also understand that there are good political reasons for keeping individual names from being published here – just look at the daily mudslinging e-mails that came from Hal’s office during the last election, not to mention the actual proposals we will be voting on. There is a great deal to be concerned about when it comes to the health and welfare of our union and its members.

And healthy discussion such as this is in my opinion desperately needed amongst our membership. Our low quorums for union meetings should serve as an example of the complacency of the majority voice of the union. While our union is made up of a range of honest, good people – some doing very well and some not, there are also those who have a different agenda. Regardless of which side of an issue you are on, I think it’s safe to say our union can do more for its members and better represent the majority of them – and we need to stand up and demand that or as the saying goes, “bad things happen when good people do nothing”. While nobody expects the union to find us work, we would hope that with equal experience, effort, talent, business sense and positive attitude, our union won’t stack the deck against any of us. I will be the first to say that those who do very well generally deserve it and have paid their dues. But we cannot allow our union to effectively say to the rest, “sorry, those jobs are full now and we’re not accepting any more applications”.

Yes opportunities arise and the tides change; new members join and there are new musicians coming into the fold all the time; but ask yourself this question, “is your union doing all it can to help this happen, or prevent it?”. See you Monday (I hope).


Please be at the meeting early tomorrow, no doubt the parking lot will be full, but we need your voice!



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