HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE COMMITTEE!!
I. A CONCERNED MEMBER’S LETTER TO THE IEB – FROM MAY 2016
II. MEMBER COMMENT – BUILDING SALE
…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer
…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
…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
I. A CONCERNED MEMBER”S LETTER TO THE IEB – LAST MAY
COLLEAGUES, The letter below serves as an excellent summary
of the local’s conduct though out the entire building sale debacle.
We thank the member who took the time and effort to document
this conduct. It also shows how the AFM was in the tank for this
sale as well.
May 15, 2016
Ray Hair, President and AFM International Executive Board
c/o Sam Folio, Secretary Treasurer
American Federation of Musicians
1501 Broadway, Ste. 600
New York, NY 10036
RE: Flawed Referendum Local 47/ Club 47
Response to Ray Hair Letter of April 25, 2016
* Denotes Enclosures
Dear President Ray Hair and IEB,
The LMRDA requires that union members have a
right to a “meaningful vote”. We believe that there
is clear and convincing proof that the referendum put
forward by the Musicians’ Club /Local 47 did not provide
the membership with a “meaningful vote”. In fact, the
Board of Directors put forward a carefully orchestrated
campaign that insured the administration total control
of the narrative promoting the sale of our Vine Street
property, fully exploiting our communications resources
for a one sided argument.
No opposition was ever reported to the membership at large
following the October 5, 2015 “informational meeting” where
it was clear the membership in the room was “not on board.”
The membership overwhelmingly voted to delay voting.
Your letter of response says there is a “lack of factual details specific enough for the Federation to act upon them.”
Here are only some specifics:
1) objection to the ballot language,
2) reply from Local 47 on ballot language clarification request,
3) non-disclosure of member concerns voiced in meetings and omitted in official publications,
4) refusal to use an agency to perform the ballot process.
Additionally, please add to your consideration the enclosed communications from Robert Hirschman, Esq. (a local 47
union member in good standing) that adequately summarizes
the position of many of the members. The response from
Local 47 counsel is also included.
Also due scrutiny, a conflict of interest in the hiring of Erick
Cruz from the same promotional company hired to promote
the sale of the building as Local 47 “campaign manager.”
Why was this person hired when Local 47 told us they were
“watching every penny?” Also, there was a conveniently
“coincidental shut down” of the Committee for a Responsible
47 blog just days after the initial mailing of the August 28, 2015,
“The Time is Now” flyer.
All of the above are addressed below as a response to your
letter of April 25, 2016.
Ballot Language Issue
The Fall Overture (print edition sent to all members) recited
that the referendum question to be decided is:
” Shall the Musicians ‘Club of Los Angeles, by and through
its officers and governing board, be authorized to sell its
real property located at 817 Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90038?”
The actual question was very much different. In fact, so different
that several members requested clarification of what a “yes”
vote or a “no” vote actually meant. Simply put, the question
could be construed to be asking about authorization regarding
the threshold price required for the sale.
“Shall the officers of the Musicians’ Club of Los Angeles,
(the “Club”) be authorized to sell the Club’s real property-
located at 817 Vine Street, Hollywood CA 90038-for not less
than Twenty Two Million dollars (22,000,000.00) to the
successful highest bidder?”
I have enclosed the correspondence from myself to the Local.
In their response, you can plainly see the callous disrespect
and hostility exhibited toward the members when we dare
to question what may be the most important issue we have
ever voted on.. Is this the type of “service to the membership”
that we somehow deserved for asking a legitimate question?
In addition, Local 47 Member Darius Campo, (one of the
realtors who is working for the Local on the sale and had
access to the names of those members who had not yet voted.
We were told he was working the phone tree and that is how
he knew who to target his email blast), included in his blast
a ballot clarification because he also knew it was an issue.
It appears that the email blast was accomplished with the
help of the Local 47 webmaster.
Additionally, repeated requests for ballot language clarification
were made by Attorney Hirschman. Attached you will be able
to see just how even Mr. Hirschman’s request was not answered
by Local counsel.
Finally, at the January 25, 2016 Membership meeting a
direct question was put to the Chair regarding the ballot
language. Counselor Levy took the question and said, “It
means whatever the drafter intends it to mean”. The response
from Counselor Levy was less than satisfactory and left those
of us invested in this question frustrated. It appeared very clear
that the administration intended to keep all its interpretive
Non-Disclosure of Member Concerns in Official
The membership-at-large did not have the benefit of discourse
regarding this referendum. Those members who opposed the
referendum (as it was presented) did not have their views put
“on the record “from those meetings for the membership as a
whole to consider. Although the minutes record who spoke
they do not indicate if the speaker was or was not in favor of
the referendum and why. Why not? The Minutes from
“Informational Meeting” of October 4, 2015 and Minutes of
General Membership Meeting of October 26, 2015, are available
for viewing on the Local 47 Website.
The administration held two “informational lunches.” No
official minutes were taken at these “Informational Lunches”
October 12, 20, 2015. They were attended by members of the
Executive Board, the realtors and only a handful of members
who were largely in opposition of the referendum.
These members asked questions and voiced their concerns.
Some had prepared and read statements regarding the referendum-none of which was ever shared or disseminated
to the membership-at-large. How could we have expected
otherwise? President Acosta said that in “hindsight” he should
have gotten the sentiment of the membership…but now, “we
are committed to the process of the referendum”. Also, that ”
the Board does not see any negatives regarding the issue of
The Time is Now.” It is reflective of the adage, “Better to beg
for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”
Members’ Request for Special Club Meeting/ Unreasonable Delay by Executive Board
At the beginning of November 2015, members petitioned the
Club 47 under the Club by-laws for a Special Meeting regarding
That meeting was not granted until January 4, 2016. This was
less than a month before ballots were due in. We believe this
was a deliberate delay allowing the referendum process to
move forward without “on the record” discourse of the
membership in opposition. The administration had at least two
full months of total control of the message to its members.
Letters to the Editor January Print Edition of Overture
Starting in 2015 the Overture is only printed and mailed to
the membership on a quarterly basis. The membership (if they
are able) have access only to an on-line version of our monthly
publication. President Acosta finally and reluctantly agreed
to print all Letter’s to the Editor regarding the referendum
in the January 2016 print edition. Again, this proves consistent
behavior by the administration to insure for themselves months
of “no visible opposition” reaching membership-at-large by
official communications. The referendum started in October
2015 and ended February 1, 2016.
Refusal to Provide Resources for Opposing Views
At the October 26, 2015 General Membership Meeting, President
Acosta was asked directly by a member if resources could be
made available so that the opposition could share legitimate
concerns with the membership-at-large, i.e. the nearly 6000
members who were not present for any discussions regarding
the referendum. This request was completely refused. President
Acosta said, “no”. The position of the Union was they are not
legally required to provide resources.
Counsel Levy, in one of his letters to Mr. Hirschman, suggested
that opposition voices could have taken out an ad in the Overture
– As if somehow doing so would have been a viable means of
reaching the membership-at-large. If the on-line version of the
Overture was sufficient to reach the membership it would not
have been necessary for the Union to spend money for postage on
five special mailings promoting the referendum.
Disparity of Resources
In addition to the five special mailings, the Local generated
numerous emails and targeted phone calls to those that had not
returned their ballots. The President proudly announced that
they had made 20,000 phone calls. How does the membership
wishing to challenge the administration’s myopic one note
samba compete? It should also be noted that members who
signed the petition for the Special Club Meeting were not
contacted by phone following the filing of that petition. It appears
there was also a “do not call” list.
Refusal to Use Outside Agency
Repeated requests for use of an outside agency were rejected
by the administration. President Acosta defended that decision
by saying, “there is no manual (playbook) for the referendum.”
Yet, he made written assurances that the referendum would meet
The Election Board Was Not In Charge of the Ballot Process
The Election Board was relegated to only count the ballots. We
were told that the Election Board would be in charge once the
ballots were returned.
Sometime on or about November 2015, the Union ordered an
additional 1000 ballots. At the General Membership meeting of
January 25, 2016, a member asked about these ballots. Even
though the Chair of the Election Board was at that meeting, he
did not address the question from the member. Sec.-Treas.
Lasley took the question and said, “well, it was around a 1000. ”
Why did he not give us an exact number? We were told the
“extra” ballots were for replacements to those members who
either “lost” their ballot or wanted to change their vote. The
Election Board was not responsible for sending replacement
ballots. All requests went through the Secretary-Treasure’s office and Erick Cruz.
On November 3, 2015, I was in the main office at Local 47 and
a great many number of returned ballots were left sitting on the
receptionists desk. My notes from that day reveal that while the
receptionist was at his desk when I checked in, he was not when I
left. These ballots were left unattended and were not in the
custody of the Election Board.
Referendum Ballot Count
I was an observer for the ballot counting on February 2, 2016.
From my notes taken in real time during the process, you can
read that it was only after my insistence that the Return to Sender
ballots were produced and counted. Having been locked in a
cabinet across from the receptionists desk , an office staffer had
to be called back to the building “after hours” to open the cabinet.
Vice-President Rick Baptist and a member of the Election Board
retrieved these ballots so that they could be included in the ballot
count. Since the administration had ordered an extra 1000
ballots, I wanted to see just how many might have been used to
replace those ballots. The total number of Return to Sender mail
envelopes was 168.
Astoundingly, in the middle of the ballot count, the entire process
had to be moved from the auditorium to a conference room. It so
happened that an orchestra rehearsal had been scheduled to use
the auditorium! How could this have happened? How do you
double book when you have planned this “major event” months
The Tally Was Incomplete Due to the Failure to Count the Unused Ballots
Title IV of the LMRDA establishes election procedures that must
be followed by all unions covered by the act. “All ballots, including
used, unused, and challenged ballots, envelopes used to return
marked ballots, tally sheets and related election documents,
must be kept for one year.”
Once the materials were boxed, taped, and signed, the Election
Board, President Acosta, and myself, walked the boxes to the
basement of Local 47 for storage. At that time Pres. Acosta
counted the boxes and announced that the” ballots will be
kept for one year.”
Subsequently realizing that the unused ballots were not in the
count, I contacted each member of the Election Board . I have
not received any response and do not believe that these ballots
were ever accounted for. This is significant because while the
vote may look overwhelmingly in favor of approval of the sale,
the threshold of 50% +1 to even count the referendum was met
by only a very few ballots. We were told at the October 5, 2015
“informational meeting” 3210 ballots would need to be returned
to count the vote. At the January 25, 2016 meeting the number
required was reported as 3030. The actual tally from February,
2, 2016 ballot count was reported as 3260.
Jay Rosen Resigned from the Election Board
At the 47 Executive Board Meeting of February 16, 2016, President Acosta introduced Jay Rosen to give an Election Board report. Jay Rosen, in an apparent surprise move, resigned as a member of the Election Board. He read a written statement that was not put into the minutes of that meeting. My observer notes are in addition to his written statement. He said, “The process disturbs me… more than one thing.” “That ballots were heavily weighted to one side…if they were close, it could have been a problem.” Jay’s final comment was, “Hopefully, the referendum will not be repeated.”
With nothing more for the Election Board to do until a new Election Board was elected, why did Jay Rosen choose to resign at this time?
Campaign Manager Hired from Promotional Company
Beginning in October of 2015, the Local hired Erick Cruz who had
been working the prior two years for the very promotional company that the union hired to promote the sale of Vine Street. His Linkedin page says Local 47 Campaign Manager.
Our Election Board Chair identified Erick Cruz as the party that “has been tabulating the ballot numbers and members to whom those number are associated gave us a list of all members that had more than one return ballot envelope that was in the scanned database and what those numbers were.”
Subsequent to the Referendum, I asked President Acosta about
Mr.Cruz, (a clear partisan) and why he should been able to have his hands all over our ballots? ( In the words of an employee.) President Acosta replied that Erick had to know who had or had not returned their ballots so “we could stop harassing them with phone calls.” There can be no confidence in the process when even the appearance of impropriety is ignored. Erick Cruz was retained with the job title of “Organizer”.
It in important to note here, that at an open meeting, it was Erick
Cruz who got up and responded to my inquiry regarding the
unsecured ballots I had seen on the receptionists desk. Then,
on the day of the referendum count, I engaged Erick Cruz in the
hallway and asked him if he was part of the Election Board and
he said no. I also asked him how he knew how the ballots were
handled? He said he had “seen how it was done.” This conversation took place within earshot of Executive Board Member, Judy Chilnick. Immediately, Ms. Chilnick summoned Local 47 Counsel Levy. Mr. Levy interrupted me and removed Mr. Cruz from our conversation. Several weeks later, I asked Judy why? I told her that Mr. Levy and Mr. Cruz are technically employees of the Union Membership and she had no right to interfere. Her response was, “I didn’t want Erick to be alone.” I then asked her if there was something to hide? She turned around and literally hustled away.
Shut Down of Committee for a Responsible 47 Blog
Probably the most scrutiny should be applied to the loss of a blog
site that has been an integral part of the memberships ability to
openly and freely communicate. The blog is where anonymously
posting opposition to union policy will not result or lead to the
death knell of ones’ career.
Only days after the initial mailing of “The Time is Now” flyer,
posts in opposition to the sale of Vine Street showed up on the
“blog”. Within days of the Committee weekly emailing the “blog”
was “spammed off.” It took many weeks and much financial
expense to get out any posts because doing so required the
need to retire a website and rebuild a mailing list. Counsel
Levy makes a specious argument that somehow the “blog” is
a “viable and consistent alternate channel of communication
for the membership “implying the “blog” absolved the Union
from its responsibility to insure the membership had a
At a most crucial time for membership discourse, the “blog”
just disappeared. Following the downing of the “blog”, the
only way to read a post was to search the web for it because
postings no longer automatically went into the subscribers
inbox. Contrary to Counsel Levy’s argument, there was no parity.
At the Oct. 26, 2015 General Membership meeting a member
directly asked President Acosta the following. “Do you know
if anyone in this room was responsible for the “blog” being
shut down? President Acosta responded. “Ask the author,
does he have any proof?” President Acosta did not even
feign surprise or concern at the implication that anyone
connected with the union would be involved.
Additionally, on November 17, 2015, I had a conversation with
Vice-President Rick Baptist in his office where the issue of the
absence of visible opposition to the referendum came up. In
specifically mentioning the loss of the blog, Mr. Baptist said,
” It did not come from the titled officers…but you know who
did.” I did not quiz him on who?…However, the union does
have a “webmaster.” Might this “webmaster” have had
something to do with it? Was that the implication from
Regardless of who might have facilitated the loss of the
“blog,”the Local knew of the loss and openly admitted it.
The only viable counter voice to the Local narrative had
been silenced. How could Counselor Levy claim, as he did,
that there was anywhere near an even playing field when
the members know they cannot send letters to the Overture
in opposition to the administration without the fear of
reprisal or losing work, or worse yet, (for our business)
loss of community?
This incident of being “spammed off” is not the first time.
Several years ago, a very well known, but politically
inexperienced member tried to run for the Sec. Treas.
position at Local 47. She put together her email list by
going through the union directory and sent out a mass
mailing. A well known and active musician was
“spammed off” apparently by her fellow musicians? She
lost any ability to mount a campaign to the membership
economically and through electronic means.
Because of the similarity of the incidents, I called the
adversely affected member about it. To her it was
obvious that she had become a persona non grata
for having attempted to run for office, She told me
she is not working much now.
Given the circumstances, it is risible to attempt for us
to file a grievance at Local 47. Internal probes in an
organization such as this can often be biased toward
a specific outcome.
Because of all the aforementioned, we are asking for
an investigation to be opened by the International
into what many of us believe is a suspicious if not
possibly a fraudulent referendum. A finding that the
Membership has been irreparably harmed is sufficient
grounds for seeking trusteeship of Local 47.
Finally, President Hair, it is unclear to me that my
letter of February 16, 2016, was ever presented to
the International Executive Board at its March meeting
as I was lead to believe. I contacted Ken Shirk for the
Minutes of that meeting to confirm that my letter was
included and whether any action had been taken by
the Board as a whole. Mr. Shirk answered me that the
Minutes would be posted in July. I need to know about
any formal action or non action taken at the March
meeting before July. This is not an unreasonable request.
Local 47 AFM/Club 47
[EC: The text of this letter included 19 footnotes, including
13 exhibits. Predictably, the AFM and the IEB did nothing.
The misconduct was and is clear, but the AFM closed their
eyes and stayed loyal to their overseers, or those doing
what the overseers wanted.]
II. MEMBER COMMENTS RE – BUILDING SALE
I voted to stay put! I’m only still a member because I like the
credit union. The Musician’s Union actually does nothing else
for me, and If the new location isn’t convenient, I’ll probably
resign and take my money elsewhere.
So obviously no ‘recording studio’ at the new location… right
next to the Bob Hope Airport. Probably not so hot for
rehearsing either. Jeeze!
It’s apparently on the east end of the airport. The flights take
off to the west and southwest.
And which way do they land from?
DEAN AND RICHARD
DEAN AND RICHARD
are now at Culver City Elks the first
11160 Washington Pl.
Culver City, 90232
LA WINDS JAZZ KATS 584
NO COVER, NO MINIMUM.
Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at
900 Riverside Drive,
Free parking across the street at Pickwick Bowl.
Come hear your favorite charts played the way
We are in the back room called
the Trailside Room.
Come on down.
Guaranteed to swing.
SFV SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Jan. 21, 2017 –
Tutor Family Center at Chaminade West Hills
Schumann: Manfred Overture
Mendelssohn: Symphony #3 in A minor (Scottish)
Belling: Music Madly Makes the World Go Round
Cary Belling, violinist
Other concerts in the series
Mar. 18, 2017 –
Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center
Tuttle: By Steam or By Dream Overture
Prokofiev: Symphony #1 in D major (Classical)
Ben-Haim: Pastorale Variée for
Clarinet, Harp and Strings
Geoff Nudell, clarinetist
Beethoven: Romance for Violin and Orchestra
Ruth Bruegger, violinist
May 13, 2017 – Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center
Saint-Saens: Bacchanale from “Samson and Delilah”
Tchaikovsky: Orchestral Suite No. 2 in C major
Egizi: Orchestral Suite
“In Memoria di Mio Padre”
Programs subject to change
You can read all previous offerings at:
UNTIL NEXT TIME,
THE COMMITTEE FOR A MORE RESPONSIBLE LOCAL 47