The Politics of Labor

Leta E. Miller

in Music and Politics in San Francisco

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268913
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950092 | DOI:
The Politics of Labor

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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

Chapter.  6122 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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