The Musicians and Petrillo

The Musicians and Petrillo

The Musicians and Petrillo

The Musicians and Petrillo

Excerpt

The story of the musicians union is a study in personalities, power, and technological change. For more than half a century the union of musicians--the American Federation of Musicians-- has been dominated by forceful leaders who, when they desired, have imposed their wishes upon the organization. These men generally have adhered scrupulously to the laws and rules of the union; but at the same time the laws have been so formulated that the international president has been able, if he deemed it necessary, to balk the desires of the majority of the members.

The power of the union is evident not only in the internal affairs of the organization, but in the union's relations with employers. The American Federation of Musicians exercises complete control over professional musicians in the United States. A musician who is not in the union normally cannot earn a livelihood by playing an instrument. The union frequently has been able to impose the terms of employment upon employers without negotiation. Some employers and some agents have been required to secure licenses from the union before being able to hire or deal with musicians.

The judicial functions performed by the AFM have made it unnecessary and unusual for members or employers to appeal to the Courts. Claims are collected for members or employers, fines are imposed, and regulations are enforced. The ability of the union to expel a member or to put an employer on the unfair list and thereby make it impossible for him to obtain the services of musicians has proved sufficiently effective in enforcing its decisions.

Inventions have changed the forms and types of music which the public hears. These technological advances have impinged on the employment opportunities of musicians and have raised problems and issues which have the concern of the public for many years. The activities of musicians are closely connected with the entertainment industry and have therefore aroused more popular interest than the work of most other laborers. Only . . .

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