It’s with mixed emotions that I write my last formal column for Allegro as president of Local 802. First, I would like to congratulate Adam Krauthamer, Karen Fisher and the whole Musicians for Change slate, who will now fully constitute our Executive and Trial Boards. I wish them all the best in their new roles.
Back when I was a freelance trumpet player, I knew that times were changing for musicians, and I got involved in the union because I passionately believed in protecting workers’ rights. As your president, I was devoted to ensuring that musicians have not been left behind as new technologies changed our industry. It’s with pride that I applied new tactical and legal strategies to contract negotiations across all areas of the music business, and I insisted that all bargaining objectives come directly from the musicians themselves. I’m proud of the work of my team, and of the contracts negotiated by our committees, and it’s been an absolute honor to serve in this capacity on behalf of the finest musicians in the world.
Work is central to the lives of most Americans, second only to our family relationships and, for many, our commitment to a faith community. As musicians, we hold our work especially close to our hearts, having given so much of our lives to perfecting our craft and having sacrificed so much to attaining professional success. I know this to be true because I lived it for most of my adult life, working right alongside many of you on stage, in theatre pits and in recording studios.
I started attending Theatre Committee meetings 20 years ago because I saw that standing together as musicians was the only way we could hope to have a real voice in our workplaces. From that point forward, I seized every opportunity to educate myself and expand my skill set so I could be an effective advocate on behalf of my colleagues. By 2009, I had spent years leading negotiating committees and serving on the Executive Board of Local 802.
When you elected me president in 2009, I redoubled my commitment to serving every member of Local 802 and bringing the benefits of collective action to every professional musician in New York City. Since that time, I have dedicated myself each and every day to leading this union with integrity and vision.
I care deeply about the musicians of this union. The record of my administration reflects that passion: giving voice to our world-class musicians, earning global respect for Local 802, creating impact in government. Together, we have bargained and enforced dozens of progressive agreements with our largest employers, winning gains in wages and benefits for musicians throughout our union. Together, we have advanced the rights of musicians on issues ranging from sick pay to fair compensation for media product on the world stage. Together, through initiatives like our Emerging Artists Project, we have drawn new musicians to our cause.
Many aspects of the recent campaign were extraordinarily difficult. I know I wasn’t the only one who breathed a sigh of relief after the polls closed. But the campaign ultimately revealed something positive: a newly-invigorated interest among the membership in the governance and activities of Local 802. That energy will help fuel our continued strength.
Over the past nine years, the outgoing administration accomplished much. Together, we have more work to do. Now it’s time to come together and build an even stronger union for each and every Local 802 musician.
Lastly, I have to give my very best regards to Tom Olcott, Andy Schwartz and all of my fellow Executive Board and Trial Board members – especially Martha Hyde, Bud Burridge, Sara Cutler and Wende Namkung. It was an honor to serve with all of you. I now return to Local 802 as a rank-and-file union member, where I will continue to advocate for the concerns and hopes of working musicians.
Tino Gagliardi ended his nine-year service as Local 802 president on Dec. 31, 2018.
After seven and a half years serving as Local 802’s financial vice president, I have a few things to say about the recent union election results. For obvious reasons, this will be my final column. I extend my best wishes to the incoming administration and hope that their agenda will be beneficial to Local 802 members. I disagree with their characterization of the outgoing administration. I stand by our work, performed primarily by the most accomplished Executive Board in Local 802’s history, now to be replaced by a board with little experience with a yet unstated new vision. If their “new vision” succeeds, then I will applaud that success.
That said, I am skeptical of what plans I have seen. I would suggest that if a new Local 802 administration supposes that it can make sweeping policy or personnel changes, and that those changes can have immediate positive effect, then they are deeply mistaken. Management of employees requires administrative expertise: new employees require training time; dismissed employees must be replaced by competent successors; new representatives to our community of musicians must have some understanding of our world. Dismissal of employees under CBAs with Local 802 may well run into arbitration expenses. Similarly, policy changes don’t arrive like an Amazon order. Those changes require lengthy consideration of possible positive or negative outcomes. I hope the new administration exercises a reasoned assessment of which fights are worth fighting, and which outcomes are truly beneficial to Local 802 members.
I suggest that the collective bargaining process be viewed similarly. Some of the more robustly funded employers can be pressed to step up. Some are so poor that pressing a minor particular issue only drives the employer into a deeper hole. Local 802 officers must be able to assess those conditions and act accordingly. Prosecuting a righteous complaint that destroys the employer might not be Local 802’s best move.
Finally, please know that I have gladly and steadfastly served our community for more than 30 years. You are my friends and my musical collaborators over many engagements in a long performing career. You are people I have strived to serve. I have presented your collective voice to our employers with vigor, expertise and discipline on your behalf, always mindful of your wishes and aspirations. I want to thank everyone for your trust, and am honored to have been your financial vice president. Be well and prosper, everyone!
Tom Olcott ended his 7.5-year service as Local 802 financial vice president on Dec. 31, 2018.