Local 802 is in strong shape

Financial Vice President's report

Volume 123, No. 10November, 2023

Karen Fisher

Let me start my column this month with some good news: our membership numbers are up from last year by almost 3 percent. We are currently 5,742 strong. The increase in membership since our re-opening has slowed, but we’re moving in the right direction. As a reminder, the AFM and Local 802 have agreed to waive the $100 initiation fee through the end of December for new members. Please help us grow our membership to 6,000 by the end of the year by encouraging your friends and colleagues to join our community. The easiest way to join is via

Local 802 finances are not as healthy as they were at this time a year ago, but there is still some good news. Recording work dues are down by 15 percent, but non-recording work dues are up by 13.5 percent. Our total income is up by 8 percent compared to this time in 2022;  however, expenses are up 21 percent. This is primarily due to both new hires and legal fees. We are now nearly staffed to capacity. We are working with counsel to control costs, so these numbers should level out over the next 12-month period. Office expenses went up by 17 percent.

Our net income between January 2022 and September 2022 was just over $565,000. This year, our net income for the same period was $147,000; however, these are raw numbers. Our audited financials will next appear in the June 2023 issue of Allegro.

As we make important capital improvements to our building over the next few years, we will require a significant initial cash outlay. However, we expect that much of the funding will be covered by low-cost financing and some returned to us in the form of grants, tax incentives and reimbursements. This investment in our future will not only bring our building up to current city codes for health and safety and reduce emissions but will make Local 802 a more pleasant place to work and visit for employees and members alike.


Some of you may have heard that AFM Local 47 (Los Angeles) had a serious data breach in July during the AFM Convention. That was a wakeup call for us here at 802. Our I.T. staff has been working on beefing up our security by introducing a number of procedures that we hope will help prevent us from experiencing a similar situation. We are also working on plans to keep everyone functioning remotely while each area of the building is being renovated.


As of this writing, the Concert Department is busy negotiating six separate contracts: ACO, Bronx Arts Ensemble, NJFO, St. Luke’s, ABT rehearsal pianists and the New York Pops. We are focused on closing a deal with the Pops so that we can promulgate the new single engagement rates as soon as possible.

MPTF and Public Service scales will increase by 3 percent starting in January, 2024. For details or questions about those rates, please contact business rep Marisa Friedman at or (212) 245-4802, ext. 130.

Please remember to stay in communication with your orchestra committees so that they can best represent you in these important negotiations.

On October 21, I was pleased and honored to participate on a panel at the 2023 BON (Black Orchestral Network) Summit in NYC along with Rochelle Skolnick from the AFM. We were asked to discuss recent trends in DEI contract language across the country; specifically the language recently incorporated into the new Mostly Mozart CBA. That contract, which was ratified by the musicians of the orchestra last summer, is the first Local 802 agreement to include  many of the NAAS audition guidelines. Besides Local 802 and the AFM, participants represented a wide variety of experiences from the classical music world. We heard from  management at the Nashville and Baltimore symphonies, Black music history scholars, composers, administrators, and conservatory students. Everyone in that room had a shared goal: to open doors and ensure the sustainability and viability of orchestral music into the future.

As President Cutler reported last month, Judy Sugarman has joined the Concert Department as our new business rep. We are pleased to have a longstanding Local 802 member on staff who understands our field to help us serve you better. Judy can be reached at or (212) 245-4802, ext. 238.

Karen Fisher was one of the featured speakers at the Black Orchestral Network summit on Oct. 21, 2023 in NYC