Leta E Miller, “Racial Segregation and the San Francisco Musicians’ Union, 1923-60,” Journal of the Society for American Music 1:2 (May 2007): 161-206. Made available by permission of Cambridge University Press.
Click To Play Commemoration of The Merger-Black Musicians, Labor And SF On February 8, 2004 at American Federation Of Musicans AFM Local 6 in San Francisco a commemoration was held on the merger of the segregated White local with the Black local 669. Between 1945 and 1960 there were segregated musician’s locals in the liberal San Francisco. These musicians talk about the conditions of work in the 50’s and the struggle to integrate their locals. AFM Local 6 Executive Board member Earl Watkins and other musicians discuss this history and also talk about the 1934 general strike and the battle that helped establish powerful unions in San Francisco. They were joined by music journalist Philip Elwood. Produced By The Labor Video Project, P.O. Box 720027, SF, CA 94172 (415)282-1908 laborvideo.blip.tv www.laborvideo.org
A Brief History of Local 669 and Local 6
excerpted from the Musical News, March, 2004 Musicians Union Local 6 was established in 1885. Ten years later in 1896, The American Federation of Musicians was chartered and became part of the American Federation of Labor (which later became the AFL-CIO).Black musicians were not allowed to join Local 6. In San Francisco, with rare exception, black musicians were not allowed to play east of Van Ness. In 1924, they were granted a charter by the AFM to do business as Local 648, which had the same jurisdictional boundaries as Local 6, and was headquartered in Oakland. Ten years later, during a bitter territorial conflict with Local 6 which ended up in court, the AFM revoked Local 648’s charter. Black musicians were then placed under Local 6 stewardship. As a subsidiary of Local 6, they paid work dues and membership dues, but they had no rights. They could not vote on wage scales or job condition matters, or receive the death benefit. In 1943, AFM President James C. Petrillo abolished all black subsidiary locals. He demanded that white locals accept black musicians as equal members, or he would grant them their own charters. When Local 6 refused, Local 669 was formed. Over the next 15 years, several failed attempts were made to merge the two locals. On April 1, 1960, because of the California Fair Employment Practice Act, the two locals were finally merged.