802’s Mandate Includes Political Action and Member Service

Recording Vice-President's Report

Volume CII, No. 9September, 2002

Erwin L. Price

In making an assessment of Local 802’s activity for this report I was struck by the wide range of programs chronicled in Allegro. As a labor union, of course, our central focus is the work of the professional musician, who may be employed in many different areas of the music business. This can range from highly commercial venues, such as the Broadway theatre or television programming, to the nonprofit Off-Broadway theatre and freelance symphonies, to Music Performance Trust Fund-sponsored free events in schools, nursing homes and parks.

However, 802’s mandate covers a wider spectrum than the music business. Organizing, contract administration, negotiating of contracts and distribution of checks (wages) are our central function – but our ancillary activities express the heart of the union’s mission.

Among this broader range of activities, Local 802’s political and legislative initiatives are among the most important. Through our TEMPO802 Political Action Committee, we are able to donate voluntary funds – not member dues – to candidates for local, state and federal office. Local 802’s endorsement is much sought after, and the local has been very proactive in interviewing candidates to see if their platforms reflect the issues we consider most important to the well-being of our members and of working people in general. Our involvement in the political arena sends positive signals to our legislators, often ensuring that doors are open to our initiatives.


Member services are high on 802’s agenda. Our affiliation with the Actors’ Federal Credit Union allows members to avail themselves of the many benefits offered by the credit union. This is a reciprocal arrangement, in which we make space for an office available in our building. That has made it especially convenient for our members and others in the entertainment community to do their banking in a second facility, since the AFCU’s main office is often very crowded.

One of our most necessary and heavily-used services is the Musicians’ Assistance Program (MAP), where members can access counseling with a social worker for many different problems: work-related, family and personal, substance abuse, financial and stress difficulties. MAP also makes referrals to other agencies that can be helpful, as well as referrals to the Emergency Relief Fund for help in financial difficulties. Jackelyn Frost, CSW, who has been in charge for the last several years, has done outstanding work in administering this department. MAP is a joint project with the Actors’ Fund and is funded by Local 802’s Emergency Relief Fund.

The Emergency Relief Fund – which, as I noted above, helps musicians in financial straits – is supported by voluntary contributions and an advertising journal that carries ads from our friends, employers and artists in the music and entertainment industry. Another source of financial support is the AFM’s Petrillo Fund, which members can access through Local 802.

Local 802 makes scholarship awards from the Anne Walker Scholarship Fund to members and their families who meet certain criteria. Other scholarships that members or their families may be eligible for are sponsored by the Music Performance Trust Fund, the Union Plus Scholarship Program and a scholarship program funded by the AFL-CIO. Information about all of these is available from my office.

In the early days Local 802 had a hiring hall, commonly known as the “floor,” where musicians gathered three times a week to network with their peers, meet leaders and contractors, and look for work. As time went on music business conditions changed and technology developed that diminished the need for the “floor.” It finally succumbed about 20 years ago. To fill this void the union established a referral service for members. Requests for musicians are referred to members whose names are on file in a database that lists their abilities and fields of interest. The referral service has demonstrated a great deal of success in matching members up with these requests, and providing the appropriate musicians for all kinds of engagements.

Another service available to members is our payroll plan, Legit 802. This gives members the ability to file all engagements, including recordings, under 802 contracts and have Legit 802 act as the employer to handle all statutory payroll deductions. This allows AFM pension and health benefits to be paid for all musicians including the leader, who may or may not be incorporated. This paymaster service is currently being used for many single engagements, club dates, some steady hotels, symphony orchestras and some recordings.

What could be more appropriate than music emanating from the Club Room on the first floor of the union, which has become one of the most sought-after rehearsal spaces in Manhattan. Its location in midtown, proximity to the theatre district and Lincoln Center, plus the affordable prices make it a desirable place for musicians to rehearse, network with others and perform in pleasant surroundings. The Club Room has also been used extensively as a meeting room by other unions and labor-related organizations.

Last but not least is the Coordinating Advisory Committee (CAC), which has discretionary funds available for projects that benefit a broad spectrum of musicians. The CAC reviews projects submitted to it and may allocate funds to help finance proposals that meet its guidelines.

These are some of the many ways Local 802 can and does help members, beyond our basic union mandate. These services and benefits can expand 802’s reach and mission, if members come forward to use them. Call the departments listed in Allegro or the Recording Vice-President’s office for more information.