Throughout my campaign for president, I stressed that to become a stronger union we all need to openly acknowledge the daunting challenges we face: a declining union membership, less work under contract, an entire younger generation of musicians who see little to no value in joining our union, pensions that are on the verge of being cut and little access to affordable health insurance. No one expects these serious challenges to be solved right away. But members do have the right to expect our leadership to address these issues in a strategic and thoughtful way.
Here are my immediate priorities as I take office:
Strengthening 802’s finances
For too many years, this union has engaged in deficit spending. That’s an unacceptable practice that we will immediately seek to address. We must have a balanced budget, and to do this we must rein in expenses.
Delivering more value to the membership
This means delivering services that our membership needs. It means being responsive to members when they call and ask us for help. We must provide excellent service to our members every day.
Negotiating the Broadway contract
This contract expires in March, and I am mobilizing all our resources – internal and external – to gear up for this important negotiation. We will be totally prepared to advocate for your interests.
Addressing the AFM-EPF pension crisis
The fiscal year ends March 31, and depending on how the stock market performs, the plan may well go into critical and declining status. The trustees will then have to make a decision on whether to cut our pensions. As you may know, the trustees have already consulted with the staff of the U.S. Treasury Department on the best way to frame their cut application. The members of this local account for about one quarter of pension contributions nationally. We are the largest local at AFM. You can be sure that I will advocate vigorously on your behalf with the trustees.
Providing health insurance
Too many 802 musicians are not covered by the union’s health plan. We are committed to looking at every possible solution.
Engaging young musicians
We need to fundamentally re-examine how this union encourages young musicians to join and work under an agreement. We need to be bold and innovative, and this includes exploring new and more flexible contract frameworks and new services aimed at musician-entrepreneurs.
Building political capital at the city, state and federal level
We have established certain relationships in the past. We need to find ways to build on these relationships so we can successfully pursue initiatives to bring more recording to NYC through initiatives like the NY Film Post Production Tax Credit program or participating in existing incentive programs like Made in NY.
We live in challenging times for musicians. You can be sure that under my administration, the leadership of 802 will respond with vision, creativity and new energy. With the overwhelming mandate you have given us, we will now decisively move forward with our mission, which is to build a more secure future for all members of this union. Everyone on the MFC team is prepared to work hard for a better future, to serve our fellow musicians and create positive change at Local 802.
I wish to acknowledge Tino Gagliardi and his Executive Board and thank them for their years of service to this union. Over the past few months, this union has debated its purpose, direction and future. It was a healthy debate between two competing visions for this union. The debate made us stronger because we now have clarity of direction that enables all of us to unite and move forward together.
The list of challenges we face is long, but I am looking forward to getting to work on all of them. Both hopeful newcomers and seasoned veterans deserve a future in which our union is strong and our future is protected. Together, we can successfully take on these challenges and I thank you for your support as we begin this critical work.