“Last week President Obama waxed nostalgic about the ‘good old days’ when union bosses wielded monopoly power in the workplace over more than a third of private-sector employees in America,” writes Stan Greer at the National Right to Work Committee. Union leaders are problem creators. Greer continues:
An acclaimed new biography of jazz titan Duke Ellington by Wall Street Journal drama critic Terry Teachout serves as a reminder of how in the 1940′s even extraordinarily talented and popular figures in the entertainment world couldn’t afford to defy (at least not openly!) the union hierarchy’s dictates. (See the New York Times review).
In Chapter 12 of The Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington, Teachout sets the scene. At the beginning of 1941, top bosses of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), a “performing-rights organization” that was effectively a union, were “determined to extract more money from the radio networks for the privilege of airing songs written by [ASCAP] members . . . .” Rather than accept the 100% increase in licensing fees demanded by the ASCAP brass, the networks helped set up a competing union, Broadcast Music Inc (BMI), and also sought out arrangements of public-domain songs to air. Some 1.25 million ASCAP songs, including nearly all the top hits of 1940, could no longer be heard on the radio as of January 1, 1941.