President’s Report

Going Forward on New Initiatives

Volume CIV, No. 2February, 2004

David Lennon

In the last issue, I promised to focus this report on some of the changes and external priorities of the new administration. The following remarks, which I delivered at the Jan. 6 Installation Ceremony, outline the beginning of a new course of action.

JANUARY 6, 2004

“Thanks for helping us celebrate the beginning of a new era at Local 802.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to friends, family and guests for joining us here today.

A special thanks to AFM President Tom Lee and AFM Secretary-Treasurer Florence Nelson for their warm welcome and support. I know we at Local 802 will continue to enjoy a strong partnership with the AFM.

I am both honored and privileged to be sworn in as president of Local 802.

Vice Presidents Blumenthal and Dennison, the members of the executive board and I have a profound sense of the great responsibility with which we have been charged and the great challenges that lie ahead.

We want to acknowledge the accomplishments of the Moriarity administration and our debt of gratitude for the path that has been set for this administration to follow.

We intend to build on those accomplishments and move forward on some important new initiatives.

First, considering the immense challenges facing the labor movement today, and following the lead of the AFL-CIO, Local 802 is committed to maintaining an aggressive organizing department that targets areas of the music industry where musicians do not have the protection of collective bargaining agreements.

In some cases our organizing efforts may be reevaluated and redirected. They most certainly will be expanded.

Organizing will be a continuing priority of this administration.

And to begin, 802’s Organizing Department will now be brought under the direct oversight of the president’s office.

It is equally important that we keep in the public’s mind an awareness of the irreplaceable contribution of live music to our city and our lives.

We know that live music is unique and incomparable.

You will always remember the band that played at your wedding, the first time you heard the Philharmonic, that night you first looked into a Broadway orchestra pit, or the first time you experienced jazz – live.

New York City has more live music venues than any other city in the world. Local 802 not only has an obligation to protect the rights of the musicians who perform in them, but to ensure their continuity, quality and growth.

That is why we intend to advance the incredibly successful public relations efforts of last year in support of live music and substantially increase the resources we dedicate to promoting live music.

We must continue to send a loud and clear message, to New Yorkers and visitors alike, that New York has always been and will continue to be the live music capital of the world.

Nearly one year ago today, 13 theatrical unions and guilds representing over 75,000 workers in the live entertainment industry officially announced the formation of an historic coalition – what we have now come to know as COBUG – the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds.

The solidarity of that coalition was put to the test early on when just two months later musicians were left no other choice but to walk out of every theatre on Broadway.

As we all know, COBUG passed that test with flying colors when the entire coalition stood together with 802 for four historic days in March during the Broadway musicians’ strike.

To our brother and sister unions of COBUG: we are deeply indebted to you and pledge to continue to strengthen our ties with each other.

Local 802 will be there for you whenever, wherever and however you need us.

We also wish to acknowledge the support we have received from our allies in elected office and pledge our continued involvement in the political life of our city, state and country to advance the causes of artists as well as all working people.

Finally, the future of live music in this city is ultimately in the hands of future generations. That is why we must explore initiatives that will engage and educate the next generations of professional musicians, from our grade schools up to the conservatory level.

Some say that you cannot change cultural tastes. I would argue that the diminishment and in some cases the absence of arts education in the schools has most definitely impacted cultural tastes.

In addition, the non-existence of labor education in our conservatories has also left incoming ranks of young musicians about to embark on a professional career in the music business ill prepared for the challenges facing all working musicians.

Local 802 can and must take a leadership role in changing that tide.

It is important that we do everything possible to persuade music schools to include labor education courses that explain the important role Local 802 and the AFM will play in their students’ future careers.

We must open our doors to the next generations of musicians.

Increased education and training must be added to the cornerstones of Local 802.

We cannot accomplish these goals alone. We cannot and will not succeed unless we band together and work as a team.

Only a team effort will move us forward into the 21st century.

We ask for your support and good will. You surely will have ours.”