Union Charges Improprieties With New Rams Band

Times Staff Writer

Cal State Long Beach officials are looking into charges by the Orange County Musicians Assn. that the campus was used this summer to recruit and rehearse a non-union band to play for the Los Angeles Rams.

A union band played for Rams home games for the past 10 years, the association said, with members paid about $100 per game, plus an additional $25 for pensions and other benefits. The Rams broke off negotiations with the union in late July after the union refused to cut the playing group from 22 to 15 members, according to Robert W. Stava, union secretary-treasurer.

Rams officials confirmed that a new band is playing but declined to provide any details of the change.

Wayne Sheley, dean of the fine arts department at Cal State Long Beach, said Friday that, in response to a letter from Stava, he had asked the chairman of the music department to determine whether Larry Curtis--the school's director of bands--had led the replacements in a rehearsal on the campus on Aug. 21 in violation of school policy.

"We don't allow outside groups to use our facilities without charging them," Sheley said in an interview. "We don't have professional groups rehearse in our halls."

Curtis said in a telephone interview that he organized the new band, with 22 members, and signed a season contract with the Rams. Members of the new band, which includes Cal State Long Beach students, said in interviews that they were told that they would be paid $50 for each performance, a figure Curtis would not confirm.

Curtis, who participates in academic evaluations of music students, said that there was no connection with his job at Cal State Long Beach and the Rams band and that he had permission to use the music building from the department chairman when school was not in session. He said that he asked a graduate student to act as the band's contractor--hiring members--and that about 10 Cal State Long Beach students were playing in the group.

"This is not an uncommon situation," Curtis said. "There's nothing wrong with that, (nothing) that's unethical."

Curtis acknowledged that he had warned band members at the beginning of the rehearsal that there might be problems with the union. He said he was certain that Cal State Long Beach students who played in the new band would face no sanctions by the union as a result of their involvement.

"We're not a union band," he said. "These people are not bound by union rules."

According to the union, the Raiders' home band has 31 members; the San Diego Chargers, 20, and the San Francisco 49ers, 24.

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