After a year and a half of near silence, the sound of live music has finally returned to New York City! Flowers are blooming, the weather has been (mostly) cooperating for outdoor gatherings, and all kinds of performances are happening in the boroughs and parks. At Local 802, we are busier than ever negotiating contracts, putting health and safety measures in place, upgrading and streamlining our internal processes, and thinking about how our union is going to look in the coming months and years.
A word about membership
We want all professional musicians to be a part of that future. If you resigned or were unable to pay membership dues during the pandemic: please know that it is very easy to rejoin! If you simply forgot to pay your dues this year, you can do so through at https://info.local802afm.org. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to rejoin or if you have questions.
Why is it important to pay your dues? Your membership card is your voice and your vote on the job. Protecting the dignity of our work as artists is at the very heart of everything we do. As we reopen to a changed world, we need your participation, interest, ideas, and solidarity now more than ever.
A special reminder: Local 802 is using e-mail as a primary way to communicate with members. Your dues notices are being e-mailed to you, not snail-mailed anymore. It’s your responsibility to check your e-mail (including your spam folder) to find your dues invoices from the union. We e-mail the invoices to you four times a year. Or, you can always start at https://info.local802afm.org and check your dues balance at any time.
Musicians, like other union members throughout the world who work under collective bargaining agreements, fared significantly better than nonunion workers during the shutdown. In addition to helping members navigate qualifying for enhanced unemployment, in some cases we were able to secure health benefits and full or partial pay for lost work. Members working under union agreements had the protections of paid sick leave and are going back to safer work environments. When management behaves in an unsafe or careless way, union contracts provide a legal remedy for those violations. The significance of having a collective voice and representation cannot be understated and may have even saved lives during the pandemic. Among the many benefits your membership provides, online programs and webinars on a wide range of topics will continue to be offered to help members navigate the recovery. Financial aid is still available through the Emergency Relief Fund for those who continue to face financial hardship.
With the sudden shut down of work in March 2020, the local’s income dropped precipitously. For details, please see our audited financial statements and the article I wrote along with Local 802 Controller Alla Emelianova. I discussed the importance of membership here because shared resources result in shared benefits. To be blunt, we need to increase our income to continue our recovery and promote the most important and basic work of the union: protecting and advancing the wages and working conditions of our members through collective bargaining. Although our 2020 financial picture is not what we had hoped for pre-pandemic, we are already starting to rebuild.
If you are one of the majority of musicians still waiting to go back to work, please do not despair! Enjoy what’s left of your down time, as you will be busy again soon enough. Come outside, enjoy a busman’s holiday, and support your colleagues. By the way, you never know when someone will need a sub!
I wish everyone a great summer filled with good health and lots of live music!
SPRINGFIELD MUSICIANS RALLY
On June 12, the musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (Springfield, Mass.) held a concert and rally in front of the orchestra’s home, the venerable Springfield Symphony Hall, to heighten the public’s awareness of the plight of the orchestra, which has been nearly abandoned by its board of directors. The musicians are presently engaged in difficult negotiations with management, which has made no concrete plans for the 2021-22 season. The Springfield Symphony has a strong connection to Local 802. Many 802 musicians regularly join the orchestra as extras and subs, and members Bob Lawrence, Peggy McAdams, Masako Yanagita, Yuko Naito, Anni Resnick, Richard Mickey, Chris Cullen, and Shotaro Mori, are rostered members of the group. Harvey Mars serves as counsel for the orchestra committee. I was happy to attend and show support for our colleagues in Western Mass. See photos below: