MEMBER PARTICIPATION WILL BE CRUCIAL TO UNION’S SUCCESS
February is Black History Month, a time of observance and remembrance of the important events and people of African American descent. Let us all take the time to honor the contributions of generations of scholars, scientists and of course musicians who have brought so much cultural richness to America and the world. This issue of Allegro contains several engaging stories about black music and heritage that I encourage you to read.
Coming to the end my first month as your president, I am looking ahead to some of the negotiations and other critical activities that Local 802 and its officers will be pursuing over the coming months.
As these events approach, I will be looking to many of you for information as well as for your participation and guidance. In the meantime, I would like to offer a brief summary of some of the events that we will need to address.
The next three years will present many challenges and opportunities for us as professional musicians and as a union. We will also have decisions to make with regard to what direction we want to take Local 802 in the coming years.
Some of our decisions will have to reflect the fact that our current financial status is not as strong as we have enjoyed in the past and we will need to consider what our priorities will be going forward in our efforts to serve our members and reverse the decline in our membership numbers.
On the negotiation front, starting this year, we will be negotiating agreements for the New York City Ballet, followed by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (including the Met’s associate musicians and musical staff), the New York Philharmonic, New York City Opera and Broadway.
It may be a challenging process, but it will also provide this administration with a chance to take a hard look at these agreements and focus on what we will need going forward. All of this will, of course, require the support and help of the committees and musicians that are doing the work.
The New York Philharmonic musicians have recently ratified a new Integrated Media Agreement. This agreement gives the orchestra committee the right to approve the use for all media projects providing for significant protection for the musicians of the orchestra. This agreement will provide both promotional opportunities for the Orchestra and additional income for the musicians.
On the AFM electronic media front, the agreement covering work for Theatrical and TV/Motion Pictures was just completed.
Starting Jan. 18. we begin the second round of negotiations with the networks for the Live Television and Videotape Production agreement. These talks will be taking place here in New York with the participation of the Recording Musicians’ Association, including both the RMA’s international leadership as well as the RMA chapters from New York and L.A. Several rank-and-file representatives will also participate.
Another issue we hope to address as soon as possible is Local 802’s Organizing Department. We currently lack the personnel necessary to carry out a major organizing campaign that would be capable of making significant progress in this area. Unfortunately, the added complication of our current financial situation will make such progress more difficult.
We will need to be creative and innovative in order to accomplish our organizing goals. This includes organizing internally, allowing our current membership to be a part of the initiatives and including our committees in educational programs. We need to give musicians the tools necessary to take ownership of our union in ways that may not have been previously considered.
I hope that all of this, in combination with a promotional program attached to public relations, will get us moving in the direction that is needed to protect and increase our opportunities for making music.
Another area of concern is the rule of law we all follow in regard to Local 802’s Constitution and Bylaws. We are all obliged, as members, to follow these rules that have been compiled over decades. I will be appointing a committee of the Executive Board to examine these laws and, with the help of union counsel, make recommendations for clarifications and possible amendments to help make sense of some of the unclear or confusing language that has come to light in recent years.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge that as I begin my tenure, the challenges of this office have become quite clear to me. I am grateful for the help of the other officers and our very talented staff in helping guide me down the sometimes bumpy road to resolution of the day-to-day problems that confront this union. This kind of cooperation within our administration is integral to the union’s and my own success going forward.