Musicians Union Protests Non-Union Work On Warner Bros Lot

Dozens of members from the local musicians union and their supporters held a demonstration outside Warner Bros Studios today to protest what they called “the exploitation of musicians taking place on the Warner Bros lot.” The protesters accused the studio, which is signatory to the American Federation of Musicians’ contract, of allowing a non-union company, Cinema Scoring, to hold scoring sessions on the studio’s facilities in Burbank.

“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.

The union said it discovered evidence that Cinema Scoring had held a secret scoring session at the studio in November. A Warner Bros. spokesman, however, said the studio has “no record of having rented any scoring stages to Cinema Scoring,” and that in any case, it has no contractual or legal requirement to rent its scoring stages only to union companies.

“Warner Bros. Pictures is one of the last remaining signatories to the AFM theatrical agreement and it adheres to that agreement,” the spokesman 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 union has been locked in a labor dispute with Cinema Scoring since June, when the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor authorized a strike sanction against the company, which bills its services as “a new way to record in Los Angeles.”

Cinema Scoring“We get excellent rates at local studios,” the company boasts on its website, which notes that “complete buy-outs” are available with “no reuse fees or backend payments.”

Under the union’s contract, musicians receive backend payments and reuse fees when their music is exploited in secondary markets, as when films are aired on TV or when film soundtracks are sold on DVDs.

Several supporters of the union, including Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the LA County Federation of Labor, and state assemblymen Adrin Nazarian, Mike Gatto and Ian Calderon, sent letters to Warner Bros. executives condemning the studio for offering a safe haven for nonunion recording sessions.

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

Cinema Scoring has not responded to Deadline’s requests for comment.

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