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Post new topic Are Musicans Unions a thing of the past?
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Author Topic:  Are Musicans Unions a thing of the past?
Dave Mudgett

Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 10 Jan 2018 11:06 pm    
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I think the broad weakening of labor unions has less to do with them be ineffective and everything to do with anti-union efforts being very effective.

Unions, like other organizations, operate and have always operated in both overall and local economic and political environments. Some of those environments are conducive to strong unions, others not.

IMO, in a free culture, collective bargaining can only be effective if there is strong demand for its members' services and a relatively limited supply of qualified people to perform those services. By this I mean that if people (producers and consumers of services) are entirely free to make their own arrangements, then whenever the supply seriously exceeds demand, qualified people who aren't working will tend to undercut the ones who are and thus weaken any collective agreement.

What is and has sometimes been true is that agreements can be enforced via political means. Fine if you can orchestrate that, but not every locale and industry will accept it.

Speaking solely from personal experience I can tell you that unions in the industry that I work in serve that gatekeeper role you alluded to and are very, very effective at securing high wages and excellent benefits for their members. Maybe that's unusual, I don't know...

Sure, there are industries and locations for which collective bargaining is very effective. I still say that one of two things needs to be presentb:

1. Strong demand and limited supply


2. Political agreements that enforce collective bargaining

But right now, I think we're in a period where political agreements to enforce collective bargaining are very far from universal.
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Jack Stoner

Inverness, Fl
Post  Posted 11 Jan 2018 3:01 am    
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Since this thread has went from talking about Musician's and unions to unions in general I'll add this.

In the Federal Government, two of the prime things in a union, pay and benefits, are not negotiable. They are set by congress.

My son-in-law works at a Ford F-150 assembly plant. The union has a big voice in the car industry. But, in the area he lives in the musician's union is very weak and most musician's I know in that area work for more than union scale.
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Stefan Robertson

London, UK
Post  Posted 11 Jan 2018 3:20 am    
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My 2 cents in London

MU are great however the problem here in London is that small and even mid sized live music venues are closing due to London's new"regeneration" idea and being converted into housing/rentals so landlords can make top dollar.

Even some of the most iconic sites are being closed.

Also DJ's have all but killed most regular PAID live music venues. It saddens me when you walk around and even in my 12 years of being here famous spots in Denmark Street, SOHO, Camden, Old Street have nearly all closed.

Dj's make more than most live musicians regularly and they literally DON'T even make music they simply play records. Frustrating.

Rant Over

Stefan aka Bilal Khalif
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Dave Hopping

Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 11 Jan 2018 9:42 am    
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Yup.The advent of rock and roll made it possible for the unskilled to gig,thus increasing the labor pool to many,many times its previous size,and making the benefits of MU membership irrelevant to all but the top session and touring/recording act players.Wasn't really a big deal until the Draconian DUI enforcement of the '80s interdicted the (until then) bountiful entertainment dollar.Since that time,there's been so little profit in the bar biz( which is where live music lives or dies)that venues go to cheaper and cheaper entertainment on fewer and fewer nights,so we have for some time seen open mics,deejays,and karaoke even on weekends.....What continually amazes me is that the once-real dream of at least local rock and roll stardom persists and all those six-stringers continue to put time ,effort and money into what for the overwhelming majority of them will be an expensive hobby and a dead loss.
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