Musicians Protest Marvel Entertainment in Cleveland

Protesters want the studio to keep jobs in the USA

CLEVELAND, OH (May 22, 2013) — Tomorrow at noon, members of the American Federation of Musicians will form an informational picket line outside a location shoot for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” to protest Marvel Entertainment’s outsourcing of musical score work to Europe.

Musicians are outraged that rather than employ local musicians, Marvel pockets millions of taxpayer dollars from U.S. tax credits meant to keep work in the United States and instead hires foreign musicians on the cheap.

AFM musicians from Cleveland Local 4, Hollywood Local 47 and New York Local 802 will distribute leaflets to employees and passers-by at the corner of East 6th Street and St. Clair Avenue in protest of Marvel’s plans to outsource the Captain America 2 musical score to London.

Marvel, owned by the Walt Disney Company, has sent film scoring work abroad for every motion picture it has produced. All other U.S. personnel hired for the productions — directors, producers, actors, grips and crew — are paid under union contracts. Only the musicians are foreign, paid with a buyout that includes no provisions for re-use payments, pension or health benefits. “Marvel lines its pockets with taxpayer money, and leaves hard-working musicians out in the cold,” says AFM International President Ray Hair.

“We don’t think this is fair,” says Leonard DiCosimo, president of Cleveland Federation of Musicians Local 4. “‘Captain America 2’ should be scored here at home — just like the acting, directing, writing, truck driving, catering, carpentering and everything else.”

Marvel took $30 million in tax incentives for The Avengers from Ohio and New Mexico. The blockbuster grossed nearly $1.5 billion in worldwide box office revenue less than a month after its release. Iron Man 3 received more than $22 million in U.S. tax credits from North Carolina, and the state of Ohio will give the studio $10 million in tax rebates for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” All the music jobs for the films were outsourced to London, as is the same plan for the “Captain America” sequel.

Studios signatory to the AFM, like Columbia, that have licensed Marvel characters (Spider-Man, X-Men) hire union musicians to record the scores, and those film franchises have enjoyed great success. Only Marvel Entertainment has refused to pay musicians fairly, not only denying musicians health care and pension but refusing to even pay for Medicare and social security.

“This is about work, employment, tax fairness, and American jobs,” says Marc Sazer, a member of musicians union Local 47 in Los Angeles and international president of the Recording Musicians Association, a conference of recording musicians within the AFM.

Today’s informational leafletings follow a string of recent demonstrations around the nation by AFM musicians against the studio. The musicians union has initiated repeated talks with Marvel, but the studio refuses to cover musicians under a union contract.

“Marvel’s actions are un-American and unfair toward musicians and to U.S. families who support film production with our tax dollars, and at the box office,” says AFM President Hair. “And we want the world to know it.”

The American Federation of Musicians is the largest entertainment labor organization in the world, with more than 85,000 members. Made up of more than 240 local unions throughout the United States and Canada, the AFM negotiates with employers to establish fair wages and working conditions for our members and protects the concerns of musicians in all areas of the music business.