This week’s actions at Local 47 are only the latest in a long-running battle between LA recording musicians and the AFM national administration.
While the battle of whether the AFM should offer a buyout contract for recording work has raged on, the industry has chosen to move a large amount of recording work for low and medium budget projects to Seattle, Europe and other locations that offer buyout contracts. They are leaving LA for one reason: they view the AFM contracts as not competitive with what they can get elsewhere. That is the single, simple truth that the AFM seems chronically unable to admit. If the AFM were offering competitive deals, the studios would stay. Instead the work is leaving LA, and Seattle is reportedly booked up for months in advance.
But the real victims here are the LA musicians who aren’t fortunate enough to be on “the elite list” that gets regularly called for top studio film recording gigs, and have been losing their homes, their benefits, and their livelihoods because they depend on the kind of low and medium budget projects that have been leaving town in droves. While I certainly understand why top studio players whose six-figure residual payments are concerned, their plight cannot compare to the real victims of the AFM civil war: the LA musician with a family who, due to so much work being driven out of town, has to decide whether to pay his mortgage or his health insurance this month.