We Are the Professionals

Dear Local 2-197 Members,

We are writing to express our concern over the decision of the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra to supply musicians for The Rat Pack (being held at the Fox Theatre), but not pay the Philharmonic musicians any wages.

Local 2-197, like all musicians’ unions, has a by-law Article XIII Duties of Members, Section 5 prohibiting its members from playing gigs for free without permission of the union. The reason for that rule – which was voluntarily adopted by the members of the Local many years ago – is that Local 2-197 is a professional musicians’ union with the purpose of helping its members to make a living wage at their trade. This purpose is undermined when professional musicians offer their skilled services for free to profitable enterprises that have paid full scale to musicians in the past.

The consequences of a member violating this by-law could be anywhere from a fine to expulsion from Local 2-197.

For years, Local 2-197 has looked the other way when its musicians played for free in a non-profit setting. It is entirely different when the Philharmonic rents itself out to a major profit-making enterprise and still does not pay the musicians. The Executive Board is contacting the union members through this email who play for the Philharmonic, and telling them that the union is not giving them permission to play The Rat Pack (being held at the Fox Theatre) for free. If St. Louis Philharmonic members nonetheless go ahead and play, they could be disciplined under union by-laws. Additionally, this warning is going to the entire membership.

Local 2-197 is reevaluating its policy towards the non-profit concerts of the Philharmonic.

Thank you,

Vicky Smolik, President and Executive Board Chair, Local 2-197, AFM

Gary A. Smith, Vice-President, Local 2-197, AFM

Steven W. Hoover, Secretary/Treasurer, Local 2-197, AFM

Executive Board Members:

Mike Buerk, Robert Ceccarini, Randall Holmes, Mike Karpowicz, Tim Myers, Jan Scott & Andrew Tichenor

Welcome, and thank you for your interest in Local 2-197 of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada. The International AFM is the largest organization in the world dedicated to representing the interests of professional musicians. Local 2-197 represents the finest professional musicians in eastern Missouri. AFM members, who number over 90,000, perform all styles of music—alternative rock, classical, pop, gospel, jazz, country, folk, rock, big band, reggae, contemporary Christian, etc.. With such active members as Bruce Springsteen, Roberta Flack, Santana, Yo-Yo Ma, Sheila E, Suzanne Vega, The Goo Goo Dolls, Willie Nelson, and Branford Marsalis, there is a strong representation of major recording individuals and groups.

The AFM has been promoting and protecting professional musicians for over 150 years. Local 2-197 has been serving the St. Louis area musicians since 1862 and continues to be an effective advocate for musicians’ rights in the workplace (be that a nightclub, a symphony stage, in a recording studio, or on tour). The AFM and Local 2-197 protect the recorded works musicians produce from being exploited, and protect our members’ live performances by providing several types of benefit programs that help them to build successful careers.