Musicians Union Protests at Warner Bros. Over Non-Union Scoring on Lot

Courtesy of AFM

The AFM says that a third party, Cinema Scoring, held a non-union session on the lot, while the studio says it did nothing wrong.

The American Federation of Musicians, joined by other unions and supporters, protested Tuesday morning at Warner Bros. over what the union alleged was a non-union scoring session held on the lot in November by Cinema Scoring, an employer with whom AFM Local 47 has a labor dispute. The union said over 50 people demonstrated.

Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Rusty Hicks and state assembly members Adrin Nazarian, Mike Gatto and Ian Calderon sent letters to Warner Bros. executives condemning what the union called “the studio’s facilitation of non-union activity on their lot and offering safe haven for employers to exploit musicians.”

Wrote Nazarian: “By allowing sub-standard working conditions on your scoring stages, it undermines the future careers of the next generation of professional musicians. Further, it negatively impacts entire communities by devaluating the livelihoods of musicians who contribute to the economic and educational well-being of our neighborhood.”

But a Warners spokesman countered that the studio was not at fault. “Warner Bros. Pictures is one of the last remaining signatories to the AFM Theatrical Agreement and it adheres to that agreement,” he said. “It is disappointing that the AFM is implying that Warner Bros. Pictures is anything but honorable with respect to its dealings with the union.”

The musicians union said it discovered evidence of a so-called “dark” — i.e., non-union — scoring session conducted at Warner Bros. in November by Cinema Scoring, but the Warner Bros. spokesman said that the studio had no record of leasing its scoring stage to Cinema Scoring.

In June, at the request of the union, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor authorized strike sanction against three music employers — Cinema Scoring, Collective Media Guild and Peter Rotter Music Services — based on their actual and/or potential engagement of musicians in non-union recording sessions. The strike sanction calls for all AFL-CIO affiliated labor unions to not cross the picket line if and when these employers call a non-union engagement. The AFM said this was the first time it had invoked a collective sanction of this sort.

Cinema Scoring did not respond to an email requesting comment.

“By enabling non-union scoring sessions on their lot — whether through rental of its facilities or otherwise — Warner Bros. is creating a safe haven for the exploitation of musicians where they are denied fair industry-standard wages, conditions of employment and benefits afforded to all other crew on the very same stage who are protected by a union contract,” said AFM Local 47 President John Acosta.

UPDATED 12/15/15 5:18 pm with additional comment from Warners spokesman that studio had no record of leasing its stage to Cinema Scoring.

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