It’s always great to start with some positive news. The Paul Taylor Dance Company – now called Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance – is once again performing with live music. The newly-renamed company just finished its inaugural season, featuring the Orchestra of St. Luke’s performing under a Local 802 contract at Lincoln Center. Allegro’s photographer was granted access to one of the exciting collaborative rehearsals with the dancers and the musicians: you’ll love seeing the photos in our photo spread. It goes without saying that ballet must be performed with live music in order to convey the true excitement of the art, especially when it’s presented at Lincoln Center, our flagship institution. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: I would personally like to thank Financial Vice President Tom Olcott for all his hard work behind the scenes in helping to make this happen by developing the kind of collaborative relationship with the company needed to go forward. John Tomlinson, executive director of the company, cited the new administration of Local 802 – as well as the desire to continue the legacy of Paul Taylor with its new residency at Lincoln Center – as reasons that performing with live music was essential. We are excited about this new relationship as well as the progress of Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance in its new endeavor. This is another victory for audiences and for the art of live music.
NO FAST AND SLOW LANES
Some more good news to report. The FCC recently passed a provision known as net neutrality. This will prevent Internet service providers from providing a “fast lane” and a “slow lane” for the Internet and should treat all data as equal. Many Local 802 members rely on the Internet to promote themselves and sell their music, and this ruling will help stabilize the democratic backbone of the Internet. The Future of Music Coalition, which Local 802 supports, made the following statement: “This is an incredible moment for so many artists and independent labels who fought to preserve an open and accessible Internet for almost a decade. Creators of all political persuasions and backgrounds embody the very spirit of what net neutrality supporters have sought to achieve in this fight: the ability to compete on a level playing field without discrimination from just a few powerful ISPs. This historic day is a testament to what can be achieved when the creative community comes together with a diverse array of advocates and activists to stand up for free expression and entrepreneurship. We are proud and grateful to see the results of principled and sustained engagement on an issue that will shape the future of music for generations to come.” For more information on what net neutrality means to artists, see www.FutureOfMusic.org.
UNION BUSTING IN WISCONSIN
Unfortunately, now for some bad news. Against all belief, Wisconsin has become the 25th state to allow freeloaders the right to enjoy the benefits and protections of a union contract without the obligation to pay their fair share. Union busters like to call this the “right to work,” but what it really boils down to is the right for some workers to leech off the hard work and solidarity of others. For those of you who may not have delved deep into this issue, let’s break it down. Many union contracts include a provision that says every worker who is covered by the contract must eventually join the union and pay union dues. This is called a union security clause. In “right to work” states, union security clauses are outlawed. This means that even though all workers at a union job receive the benefits of a union contract, it becomes optional to join the union and pay dues. It then becomes very tempting for some workers not to join the union, which cuts off the union’s flow of income, even though those workers are still benefiting from the union contract. This is exactly what union busters want. Why? Let’s face it: union busters don’t like unions because when workers are organized, it represents a fundamental threat to the idea that people are simply interchangeable robots that can be hired and fired and moved around at will. The whole point of unions is to empower people and show that we are not just tools or cogs in a machine, that we deserve respect and that we have an equal voice at the bargaining table with those who employ us. Even though New York is one of the strongest union states in the country, we must always be vigilant to protect our rights. Right-to-work laws and union busting are fundamental attacks on the dignity of all workers. I urge you to stay informed about this issue. And anytime you vote, please choose candidates who respect workers and who respect unions. We’ll keep you posted.
NEW YORK CITY OPERA UPDATE
The future of the New York City Opera is still in the hands of a federal bankruptcy judge. Two bidders have made a play for NYCO, and it’s impossible to predict exactly what will happen. Meanwhile, the show is going on, in a way. Musicians of NYCO recently took part in a tribute concert to the late Julius Rudel, who was NYCO’s principal conductor and general director from 1957 to 1979. He died last June at the age of 93. The concert took place at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater and featured Plácido Domingo. We’ll keep you posted about the future of NYCO. We have hope that the New York City Opera will rise again, and that NYCO musicians will eventually receive the back wages that they’re still due and again enjoy a union contract with the promise of steady work.
CELEBRATING THIS MONTH
April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Jazz is truly one of America’s gifts to world music. Many Local 802 members are jazz musicians and jazz is a critical part of the history of both Local 802 and New York City. Congress has even declared jazz to be a national treasure. In 2002, the Smithsonian designated the month of April as Jazz Appreciation Month. Please see our feature interview with jazz master Joe Lovano. Also please see our tributes to the late great Clark Terry and Lew Soloff.
Let’s never forget those who have given their lives for their work. Every year, the labor movement observes Workers Memorial Day on April 28, to commemorate those who have died on their jobs and to focus on making workplaces safer. For more information, see www.aflcio.org/Issues/Job-Safety/WorkersMemorialDay.
Earth Day also occurs this month, on April 22. Check out the latest updates from the Broadway Green Alliance.
CONGRATULATION TO GRAMMY WINNERS
Local 802 applauds the following members who won a Grammy this year. The following list of winners reflects those whose work is recorded on AFM signatory labels. Thanks to the International Musician magazine for researching the complete list, which can be found in the March issue:
- Best Improvised Jazz Solo: “Fingerprints” track from the album “Triology” by the Chick Corea Trio: Chick Corea, Christian McBride and Brian Blade
- Best American Roots Performance, Best Roots Song and Best Americana Album: “A Feather’s Not a Bird,” track from the album “The River & The Thread” by Rosanne Cash
- Best Arrangement for Instruments and Vocals: “New York Tendaberry” featuring Renee Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma
MEMBERSHIP ALERT: BENEFIT CONCERTS
If you’re asked to play a benefit concert without getting paid, please contact the union immediately. Our first priority is making sure that you are protected under a Local 802 agreement. The union’s policy is that you must always get paid wages and benefits, even for a benefit concert. Musicians are free to donate their compensation back to the employer, and under some circumstances that donation may be considered a deductible charitable donation. If you’re asked to play a benefit concert, call (212) 245-4802 and ask for a union rep.