Cash Date Fact Check

money crop

The true cost of taking non-union work

Musicians experiencing a downturn of work may feel that accepting non-union work is the only answer. It’s easy to think, “I need to take whatever work I can to pay my bills and support my family. What’s the harm in working a non-union job?”

The question often not asked is, what if everyone were to accept jobs with no set wage minimums, no guaranteed health care, and no other benefits?

As musicians choose to operate on their own and take whatever jobs are offered with no regard to union scales, pretty soon these cash dates become the dominant form of employment. Accepting cash dates sends a clear message to employers that there are musicians out there willing to ignore our agreements. What could do more to cheapen our work?

The scary truth is that accepting any sub-standard job weakens the standards for ALL of our work – whether in recording, club dates, MP/TV, concerts, theatrical films, or jingles. When one musician accepts less, all musicians get undermined, along with the strength of our union. Settling for non-union work tells employers that not only you, but all of your colleagues, are worth less.

It’s a no-brainer that employers will never cease pushing the limit of how little they can compensate workers. If we musicians wouldn’t value our worth enough to demand fair union wages and protections, why would an employer? How hard would it be to pay your bills and support your family if all the union work disappears?

So – what can we do? How can we ensure our hard-earned union jobs don’t give way to cash dates? The answer begins with a simple act: Talk with another musician. Start a discussion. Get involved. Let your colleagues know how important you know it is for us to stand together and be unified, and that this is the only way to show employers that ALL musicians are worth fair wages, working conditions, and health care and benefits.

If we want things to change, we have to take on some responsibility. No, it’s not always easy. Yes, can be uncomfortable. But when it comes to our future, there is no other option than to take a stand. Change is inevitable. It’s what changes that is variable. Will you stand idly by and see wages and working conditions fall by the wayside? Or will you take action, stand up with your fellow musicians, and take charge of our collective future?

We are the Union. Without you, there is no us. Showing employers that we are strong and unified is the only way to make any change for the better.

Stand up. Get involved. Report Dark Dates, sign up for Local 47 Action Alerts, join the Local 47 Organizing Committee, and help create action pl­ans along with your colleagues. We CAN – and WILL – succeed together.