More than 30 members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) protested in Cleveland May 23 outside a location shoot for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
Musicians are outraged over Marvel Entertainment's outsourcing of musical score work to Europe while it pockets millions of taxpayer dollars from state and federal tax credits meant to keep work in the United States.
Musicians from Cleveland Local 4, Los Angeles Local 47 and New York Local 802 along with fellow union members from area AFL-CIO, CLC, UNITE-HERE! and SEIU locals showed up clad in black T-shirts adorned with large white-stencils reading “Music Jobs Justice Crew.” They distributed leaflets and donned picket signs in protest of Marvel's plans to outsource the “Captain America” sequel's musical score to London.
Cleveland Local 4 President Leonard DiCosim:
We really felt a solid sense of solidarity from coast to coast. This is not just a soundstage issue with Los Angeles, or a (New York Local) 802 issue. This is an issue for all AFM members.
Escaping the late afternoon downpour by mere minutes, the protesters were well received by the majority of the public who embraced not only the musicians' message of tax fairness and keeping jobs in the USA, but also the enthusiastic six-piece steel drum ensemble led by local union members. Cleveland councilman Kevin Conwell, himself a percussionist, happened upon the demonstration and joined in on the action when handed some drumsticks.
According to Marc Sazer, Local 47 member and international president of the Recording Musicians Association (a player conference within the AFM):
Musicians are canaries in the coal mine. Even as Marvel takes millions and millions of U.S. tax dollars they are planning on taking all of their production overseas for their next films. U.S. taxpayers deserve better.
The state of Ohio will give Marvel $10 million in tax rebates for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” The studio also plans to film parts of the movie in California and Washington, D.C. and will receive millions more in tax credits from those states as well as from the federal government.
When I was talking to people on the street, they didn't even know that the film score was being done overseas. It's highly ironic that the title 'Captain America,' with U.S. characters deeply associated with our country and our country's spirit, has music being scored with our tax-dollar support with foreign orchestras.
Weeks after its premiere May 3, Marvel's “Iron Man 3,” scored in London, set a new record by earning over $1 billion in domestic box office profits. The studio is poised to rake in hundreds of millions more in foreign ticket sales and secondary markets such as DVDs, Netflix and merchandise.
Marvel, owned by the Walt Disney Company, has sent film scoring work abroad for every motion picture it has produced.
Cleveland resident Leo O'Flanagan saw the protest while walking by, and the issue of outsourcing resonated with him strongly. The 24-year-old artist and graphic designer has experienced firsthand the devastating affects of outsourcing in the visual and performing arts.
“It's wrong that Marvel and company is outsourcing jobs that we could do here,” O'Flanagan said. He joined the musicians in handing out flyers and spoke to people on the street about how outsourcing is hurting all Americans. Several people stopped to call Marvel on their cell phones to express their outrage.
View a photo gallery at bit.ly/clevelandprotest.
Follow updates at the Music Jobs Justice Crew website: www.MJJcrew.com.