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Let's Protest Something

Musicians' Union Protests Outside of Tonight Show, Kimmel

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Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 10:17 AM

click to enlarge Michael Ankney (L47 Live rep) handing out a leaflet. - LINDA A. RABKA - COURTESY OF AFM LOCAL 47
  • Linda A. Rabka - Courtesy of AFM Local 47
  • Michael Ankney (L47 Live rep) handing out a leaflet.
Yesterday, the American Federation of Musicians staged a protest aimed at TV shows with live bands, here and in New York. In the Los Angeles area they picketed outside of The Tonight Show, Dancing With the Stars and Jimmy Kimmel Live. The 116 year old organization claims its performers haven't been granted a raise in seven years, despite renewed pressure on networks.

Fanning out from Burbank to Hollywood, about 30 union musicians from their Local 47 chapter handed out leaflets to line-bound prospective audience members in blistering heat.

click to enlarge Outside of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (from left): RMA President Emeritus Phil Ayling, music librarian Naomi Sato, Local 47 Live Rep Michael Ankney, Live Performance Data Analyst Bill Ryan, Sound Recording Rep Eric Dawson and Communications Coordinator Kori Chappell. - LINDA A. RAPKA - COURTESY OF AFM LOCAL 47
  • Linda A. Rapka - Courtesy of AFM Local 47
  • Outside of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (from left): RMA President Emeritus Phil Ayling, music librarian Naomi Sato, Local 47 Live Rep Michael Ankney, Live Performance Data Analyst Bill Ryan, Sound Recording Rep Eric Dawson and Communications Coordinator Kori Chappell.
It wasn't much in the way of spectacle; the protesting musicians don't chain themselves to anything or carry placards or even yell, really -- they just chatted with folks and handed out flyers which read "Cheated: Musician's Edition" and contained a QR code that led here.

"We tried to use some of our non-performing members," said local Vice President John Acosta in a phone interview, suggesting that performing members may be afraid of network retribution. "But I think that the audience members reacted well. One woman asked what she could do, and we told her to go in and get the flyer into the hands of some executives if she could."

Acosta, a rock guitarist by trade, joined the union about 10 years ago and got swept up into the politics of it and now helps run the 8,000-strong chapter that covers musicians all over Southern California.

"The bands on these shows are essential to the product that these shows are putting out. Ultimately it's going to come down to what the networks are going to do." And without a raise in seven years -- or health care increases in even longer -- those musicians are suffering. While Acosta and other union heads restarted negations a few years ago, the networks refused their demands in lieu of certain concessions.

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