Happy New Year to all! As I write these words, I’m in Tokyo at a meeting of the International Federation of Musicians, hosted by the Musicians’ Union of Japan, where we’re discussing, among other things, fair remuneration to musicians when their tracks are streamed on the Internet. I’ll give you a full report in the next issue.
I am honored to report that I was recently appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to the Cultural Affairs Cultural Plan Citizens’ Advisory Committee. The committee will advise the Department of Cultural Affairs on the development and implementation of New York City’s first Cultural Plan. As Local 802 members know, the arts are a centerpiece of New York City’s economy and education system. As president of the union that represents thousands of New York’s top musicians, I am honored to help create a plan to ensure that NYC’s cultural economy remains vital and continues to provide the good jobs that attract the very best from all around the world. We must ensure that artists, craftspeople and musicians are able to live, work and raise their families here in this great city, whether they work on Broadway or at Lincoln Center or perform in any of the many cultural venues and public spaces citywide. As we look toward our next generation of artists, we must support our cultural institutions and make sure our schools maintain robust arts and music programs. I thank Mayor de Blasio for appointing me to the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, and look forward to working with the Department of Cultural Affairs and the other esteemed committee members toward these important goals.
A LOOK BACK
As we say hello to a new year, it’s appropriate to look back and remember our accomplishments in 2015 as well as remember those who have left us.
Last year, we said our final goodbyes to Clark Terry, Lew Soloff, Wilmer Wise, John Ware, Gunther Schuller, Kurt Mazur and former Local 802 Recording Vice President Erwin Price, among many other Local 802 members, colleagues and friends.
In 2015, we signed a new collective bargaining agreement with City Center, covering its Encores series. We successfully negotiated the successor agreement with the New York City Ballet. Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance Company performed to live music in its inaugural season, featuring the Orchestra of St. Luke’s under a Local 802 contract at Lincoln Center. The Jazz Foundation renewed its agreement with Local 802 covering the house band at our Monday night jam sessions. We achieved a collective bargaining relationship with the venue 54 Below, our first contract with a major NYC nightclub. We successfully renegotiated our Jewish Club Date Agreement, which had expired in 2009.
In 2015, the American Ballet Theatre celebrated its 75th anniversary, Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th, and we said goodbye to David Letterman as host of the Late Show, along with Paul Shaffer and his band. (We interviewed all of these musicians in Allegro’s pages with special coverage and tributes.)
In 2015, we negotiated dozens of contracts covering musicians who play in musical theatre, including productions of “The King and I” and “Preludes,” both at Lincoln Center. We also renewed our Off Broadway Area Standards and achieved a renewal agreement with Inside Broadway. In last year’s Broadway season, total attendances reached 13.104 million people, and Broadway shows yielded $1.365 billion in grosses, the best attended and highest grossing season in Broadway recorded history.
In 2015, I made many visits of solidarity to our colleagues. I traveled to Belgrade to take part in meetings of the Societies’ Council for the Collective Management of Performers’ Rights. I was invited to London for the biennial conference of the British Musicians Union. Later, in Greenwich, Connecticut, we hosted the inaugural meeting of the long-sought Eastern Conference of AFM Locals.
In 2015, we recognized Chick Corea, Christian McBride, Brian Blade, Rosanne Cash, Renee Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma, all of whom won a Grammy last year and all of whose work was recorded on AFM signatory labels. Also in 2015, the NEA awarded Local 802 members Carla Bley and George Coleman its coveted “Jazz Master” designation.
In 2015, Local 802 was involved in rallies for a $15 minimum wage, which culminated in some victories: New York state will gradually raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 an hour and state workers in New York City will earn $15 an hour by the end of 2018.
In 2015, Local 802 joined a coalition called New York is Music to advocate for a music tax credit for the recording industry. A massive 71-piece orchestra recorded the score to the upcoming Dreamworks film “The Light Between Oceans” under a union contract at Manhattan Center. The soundtrack to the upcoming film by the Coen brothers, “Hail Caesar!” was also recorded under a union contract in NYC.
In 2015, The Music Performance Trust Fund won a grant to help fund music presentations in senior centers; Local 802 musician Richard Frank kicked off the series, and he was introduced by Rosanne Cash.
In 2015, we congratulated Roberta Reardon on her nomination by Governor Cuomo as the new commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor. We look forward to working with Roberta and we know she’ll do a great job on behalf of the workers of New York.
Finally, I would again like to thank you for your faith in our administration, which allowed us to run unopposed in the 2015 Local 802 officer elections.
Now, on to the new year!
THANKS TO GOVERNOR CUOMO
Local 802 thanks Governor Cuomo for vetoing A3390-A/S-4402-A, damaging legislation that would have denied performing artists employment status and stripped them of important workplace protections in certain circumstances. Local 802 fought hard for musicians to be afforded basic protections through employment status, and we will continue to advocate for our members’ rights.
The Broadway stagehands (represented by IATSE Local 1) recently announced their new agreement with the League. We’re next! Our negotiations with the League begin in March, and we’re currently meeting with our own Theatre Committee to develop proposals and strategies. In other theatre news, we recently signed agreements covering musicians for productions of “Tappin’ Thru Life,” “The First Noel” and “Iphigenia in Aulis.” If you play in any of these productions and want information on your rights and pay scales, call the Theatre Department at (212) 245-4280. All calls are confidential. Likewise, if you get called to play in any musical theatre production and want to make sure you’re being paid fairly, call us. We have a great track record in helping you make sure you get the pay and benefits you deserve.
On Nov. 17, 2015, the Local 802 Executive Board passed a motion “to instruct members to refrain from taking work with any artist, act or contractor booked into the 2016 season of American Songbook until an agreement is reached with Lincoln Center with regard to American Songbook and Lincoln Center Out of Doors.” Local 802 is attempting to negotiate a contract so that musicians who play at American Songbook and Lincoln Center Out of Doors are guaranteed fair wages and benefits. We know that Lincoln Center can afford appropriate scales and benefits and that musicians deserve them. The season starts on Jan. 20. Please check out www.AmericanSongbook.org. If you’ve been called to play for any of these acts, please call the office of the Local 802 Recording Vice President at (212) 245-4802, ext. 110, for the latest updates. Your call will be kept confidential.
At last, the situation with the New York City Opera has some movement again. The group known as NYCO Renaissance (which includes Roy G. Niederhoffer and Michael Capasso) is now the only contender for the company, after a rival proposal was dropped by Gene Kaufman. The creditors’ committee (including the AFM Pension Fund) still needs to approve the plan, but there are no alternative proposals at this point. NYCO plans to produce Puccini’s “Tosca” at the Rose Theater on Jan. 20.
OTHER UNION UPDATES
- There are two bylaw resolutions in this issue, which are printed on page 43. Please read them carefully. Members will vote on them at the next Local 802 membership meeting, which is Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. here at the union.
- We recently negotiated two side agreements to the Met Opera contract. One concerned concert attire during and after the New York season. The other addressed chamber music concerts at Carnegie Hall. It was important for the orchestra to have language that codified the practice for concert dress.. It was also necessary to have an agreement covering chamber music because chamber music performances were not covered under the master agreement.
- I am currently assisting the AFM in negotiating the new Public Television contract, which covers musicians when they play on public TV. We are making some progress, but it is slow going. On a related topic, the AFM and Local 802 have reached an agreement with Sesame Workshop covering the musicians working on “Sesame Street.” I will provide details in our next issue.
- Local 802’s Public Service Scales have increased as of Jan. 1.