by Tom Olcott
One of my duties as financial vice president is to report twice a year on the union’s finances. Our latest audited report appears in the printed issue of Allegro. It covers the period Jan. 1, 2017 to June 30, 2017, and as always, you should think of this as a short-term snapshot, not a long-term forecast.
While the numbers speak their own truth, it is also important to consider them in the context of the budgeting process. Every year, the Local 802 officers and the controller meet several times to create the budget. That process considers many factors. Our most important concerns are: 1) our best assessment of the state of the music business and the flow of membership and work dues revenues; 2) recognition of future costs (upcoming negotiations, organizing campaigns, public relations and legal needs, building maintenance, etc.); and 3) close observation of the accuracy of our past budgeting results. The primary goal is always to ensure that Local 802 members’ money is spent responsibly and advances our established contracts, our organizing goals and our political presence. Above all, our goal is to conserve our overall resources.
Considering the above, the latest audit should reassure us all. While overall revenues are slightly down and expenses slightly up from the comparable 2016 period, the numbers differ only by 1 percent. Most of that difference can be attributed to a slight loss in membership and slightly higher personnel costs due to staff raises and adjustments to some benefits. Our investments managed by Morgan Stanley showed gains in the bull market environment of the first half of 2017.
It is especially heartening that Local 802’s overall bottom line has remained stable because there was no repeat of last year’s windfall: an entirely unexpected bequest of just over $100,000 by a pianist named Edward M. Goldsmith, who was a member of Local 802 from 1954 to 1998. Mr. Goldsmith died on Oct. 13, 2013 at the age of 75. It took a few years for his estate to be sorted out, but in the end, Local 802 received a very generous check. We want to be able to honor Mr. Goldsmith, but his life remains a mystery, even as we’ve tried to learn more. Anyone reading this who knew anything about Mr. Goldsmith can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 245-4802, ext 105. His last known address was on Avenue C here in Manhattan, and he also played guitar and flute in addition to piano. He was very generous to Local 802. We welcome any information regarding his life in music.
In summary, our bottom line shows Local 802 to be in a stable economic state. As I have said in previous columns, stability continues to be a form of success.
We all live in a professional music world that, to many members, seems to be declining. Considering the numbers reviewed above, I would advise members to note the union’s overall gain through the first half of 2017. This means, in part, that more musicians are working. We may actually be seeing the results of an improved economy. Local 802 can never immunize itself from larger macroeconomic developments, but we also are always seeking to take advantage of new employment opportunities and to convince our members to unite in support of fair conditions and benefits as compensation for those opportunities. We will always pursue and support those efforts.
The good news is that the recent audit shows that Local 802 is in good financial shape. We will certainly continue to be able to provide dedicated service to our members. That has always been our pledge, and these audit numbers confirm 802’s real ability to continue that commitment. As we proceed, please remember that members are the union, and that our unity is our greatest strength. Best to all.