President’s Report

Financial Future of Union in Members’ Hands

Volume CIII, No. 10October, 2003

The membership meeting to be held on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 3 p.m. in the Club Room will consider six bylaw amendments. One was submitted by the Local 802 Executive Board and five were submitted by Local 802 members, with four of the five coming from one member.


The Executive Board Resolution – Resolution #2 – was described fully by Financial Vice-President Tina Hafemeister in the September issue of Allegro while the financial dilemma that led to the resolution was reported in Allegro’s May issue by Controller Jonathan Bogert. I urge you to read these two articles. (All six resolutions were published in full in the September issue.)

Unions, like most other enterprises, remain viable through the implementation of sound business practices and are subject to the same economic pressures as the rest of society. From 1994 to 2000, Local 802 successfully operated in the black. Our intention was to create a financial cushion should we be faced with a serious management attack that might require significant expenditures of funds. That attack came with the 2003 Broadway negotiations.

Since the producers had telegraphed their onslaught several years earlier, we had initiated, beginning in 2001, a live music campaign that, over a two year period, cost about $425,000.

These costs, combined with normal increases in the cost of doing business, caused the union’s net assets to decline $439,000 over the last two years.

There is almost universal agreement that the live music campaign must continue in some form; Local 802 remains the principal advocate for the cultural values of live musical performance in the New York City area. If we do not take on this task it will not be done.

At the same time, it is expected that employers will continue to intensify their anti-union stance, requiring a greater union effort involving both public relations and, probably, legal expenses.

And, of course, the salaries and benefits of our more than 70 employees must at least keep pace with the cost of living.

All of this results in substantially increased costs. We have had no new revenues for eight years and need this additional income.

I strongly urge you to attend the Oct. 21 meeting – and to vote for a dues increase.


Resolution #1 would eliminate the current requirement that those seeking or holding elective office in the union have been members of Local 802 for two consecutive years. The reasons cited in the “whereas” section of the resolution seem to imply that the local has a pressing need to look outside its membership to find qualified officers.

It is a fundamental tenet of the trade union movement that workers are capable of understanding their own business and managing their own workplace affairs. I have seen nothing in my time in office that, either in this union or in others, would contradict that. As the Executive Board stated in its report on this resolution, “union membership of the length required by the bylaws demonstrates a commitment to the union and its processes.”

Such a commitment is invaluable in a union officer. I do not recommend the passage of this resolution.

Resolutions #3, #4, #5 and #6, while professing to open up the democratic process and increase rank and file participation, in fact do just the opposite.

Taken in totality they would:

  1. Place greater restrictions on those who could run for office;
  2. Place severe limitations on those who could vote for officers;
  3. Eliminate the three full-time elected positions in favor of appointees and;
  4. Place the selection of those appointees in the hands of 11 elected executive board members.

The resolutions, if passed, would eliminate from the elective process almost the entire jazz field, most of Off Broadway, and those musicians who work only member-leader single engagements – not to mention the several thousand active members seeking work under union contracts but often doing so unsuccessfully.

These latter are the very musicians who most need the union. We cannot exclude them.

Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein – one of Local 802’s legal firms – has found that resolutions #4 and #5 would “improperly limit the statutory right of members to vote and run for union office and, therefore, should not be adopted.”

I urge the defeat of these four resolutions.