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Music and Politics in San FranciscoFrom the 1906 Quake to the Second World War$
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Leta Miller

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520268913

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520268913.001.0001

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The Politics of Labor

The Politics of Labor

The Union(s), the Clubs and Theaters, and the Predicament of Black Musicians

Chapter:
(p.92) 4 The Politics of Labor
Source:
Music and Politics in San Francisco
Author(s):

Leta E. Miller

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520268913.003.0004

Among San Francisco's noisy political battles during the first half of the twentieth century, those involving labor were perhaps the most vicious—and certainly the most public. Like other union workers, the city's musicians included some of the nation's most vocal exponents for respectable pay, reasonable hours, and decent working conditions. During the Hadley years, the symphony management was able to hire and fire the entire orchestra between each concert set. During Hertz's early years, contracts for the players and for the conductor himself were rarely settled before the late spring, and were issued for only a year or two at a time. Musicians in casual employment experienced far worse exploitation from fly-by-night theater managers, who would sometimes skip town without paying hired orchestras, and from restaurant and club owners, who found creative ways to stiff their employees. The “musicians' protective unions” that sprouted throughout the country by the turn of the century aimed at curbing such abuses. San Francisco musicians were among the first to affiliate with the American Federation of Musicians: Local 6 was chartered on February 2, 1897.

Keywords:   San Francisco, musicians, theater managers, musicians' protective unions, American Federation of Musicians

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