A new season of organizing begins

Volume 114, No. 5May, 2014

Adam Witkowski
JACKPOT: Local802 is working to help musicians who perform at the Resorts World Casino in Queens achieve the benefits of a union contract.

JACKPOT: Local802 is working to help musicians who perform at the Resorts World Casino in Queens achieve the benefits of a union contract.

As spring warms up the city, a very busy season for many of Local 802’s members arrives. As we all know, parties, weddings, concert seasons and special events throughout the city’s many parks bring a lot of employment opportunities to New York City’s musicians, and with that, a lot of organizing opportunities.
Local 802’s largest organizing efforts still lie in the Justice for Jazz Artists campaign (see The winter months allowed for a good deal of time to be spent reaching out to various musicians, elected officials and members of the diverse NYC faith-based community. This outreach has led to a growing number of supporters from many areas of the city, sending a message to club owners that this is an issue that all of New York City supports. The jazz campaign hopes to build on this momentum of support in the coming warmer months with a number of street demonstrations, a concert, a vigil with local faith community leaders, and an event at City Hall. More information on these events will be available to Allegro readers as dates are finalized.
Another area the organizing department is exploring at this time is New York’s vibrant Latin music scene. Union rep Miguel Santana, along with our new part-time organizer and researcher Marcela Barrientos, have been out in the field listening to musicians talk about the issues that matter to them the most. If you would like to be a part of 802’s continued efforts in this field, please contact Miguel Santana  at (212) 245-4800 ext. 146.
At the time of writing this article, Local 802 is coming to an agreement with the venue 54 Below. The result of this effort is that, once the agreement is in place, all jobs that take place at 54 Below will be under a contract that will guarantee fair wages and all the benefits and protections our members deserve. We are confident that the result of this musician-driven effort will set an important precedent for future organizing efforts in clubs throughout the city.
Along similar lines, Local 802 has been in talks with Resorts World Casino at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and hopes to have a contract in place there in the near future. The casino hires between five to seven acts every week, all of which we hope will be covered by a Local 802 contract by the end of the year. If you work or have worked at the casino and would like to contribute to efforts of the Organizing Department, please contact me at (212) 245-4802 ext. 157. We want to help all musicians achieve the wages and benefit they deserve.