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Notes on the Failed Alliance Between the Association of

Media Composers and Lyricists and the Teamsters


Martin Gladu

- The decision to not go forward with the unionization of motion pictures


composers and lyricists was the Teamsters. The latter cited unfavorable general
economic conditions, AMPTP’s lack of willingness to voluntary recognition, and
issues within their own organization as their main motivations for pulling out

- The AMPTP said it would not voluntarily recognize the Teamsters. Consequently,
the union felt it was not ready to go to the NLRB and argue their case

- Because they were considered independent contractors by the NLRB in 1984 (also
in 1957), the AMPTP opined that the composers and lyricists still could not
organize as a union under federal labor law

- AMCL was only asking for health benefits because minima, working conditions,
pension plan, etc. terrified a number of composers and their agents

- The SCL was formed specifically with the idea of going to the NLRB obo
composers and lyricists in TV and getting certification, which was denied

- The composers are independent contractors (they are paid as a package); but the

- Teamsters thought that the conditions of employment are those of employees


(they are under direct supervision)

- They are not the only group of independent contractors: the directors and writers,
for example, work as independent contractors and they have a union (because the
AMPTP recognized them)

- Agents did not want anything standing in the way of its roster getting work,
including free work

- 1995, SCL (Richard Bellis)-IATSE + SCL (Shirley Walker)-AFM – Issue of the


writer’s share of performance royalties would now be subject to union negotiation
is what killed the bid for unionization back then

- “Twenty-five years ago,” the SCL, with the help of the Writers’ Guild of America,
compelled the AMPTP. Jim Di Pasquale headed the effort and did the organizing,
which cost the WGA close to $65,000 and took 3-4 years

- The willingness to strike was not strong. Ditto for Teamsters Local 399
- The idea of first going to the independents (rather than to the AMPTP) was tossed
around

- AMCL walked away from a letter of support from the WGA on free
writing/writing on spec in early 2010 because, again, the AML was going for health
benefits

- There were fewer composers in the 60s and 70s

- Established composers employ other composers (ghostwriting). Mike Post being


a great example. It is believed that it is these established composers – along with
game composers – that thwarted the effort

- Sitcoms use almost 100% library music

- Typical contract with composers prohibits the latter from using union musicians.
Such prohibitions do not exist for other guild/unionized talent. That prohibition
encourages “dark dates” and use of synthesizers/software/samples

- AFM expressed interest in representing composers and lyricists. That said, Max
Herman, the former President of the American Federation of Musicians, believes
that composers are not numerous enough to have any real strength in a union. He
predicts that a composer's union would be too poor, just as the CLGA was, to effect
major changes. Indeed, it is unclear where composers will suddenly acquire the
leverage to bargain effectively with producers

- AMCL’s key people: Jim Di Pasquale, Alf Clausen, Alan Elliott, Bruce Broughton

- Teamsters’ key people: Steve Dayan, Leo T. Reed, Anthony Cousimano

- game composer = $1000 per minute

- Teamsters favors internships so as to build communities