It’s Showtime! An Activist’s Diary

Music & Power

Volume CVIII, No. 12December, 2008

Ethan Fein

Power Boosters activate! Our first big mission this fall was making over 3,000 phone calls for Barack Obama. We also made calls in support of John Hall (a Local 802 member) and Mike McMahon, both of whom were running for Congress, and Joe Addabbo, who was running for New York State Senate. (All three won!)

Oboist and Local 802 member Mark Perchanok, a fellow Power Booster, told me, “I felt I was doing something to help the Obama campaign and our local’s involvement in getting an administration which will help with pro-labor legislation.”

Besides our own call lists, we also got lists of union members in Florida from the Transit Workers Union, Local 100. Working with other unions on political campaigns can only help us if we need allies in future struggles.

In this campaign, what struck me as being very different from any other phone campaign I have done was the enthusiasm and sense of fun which often could be heard in the voices of the people who supported Obama. I think people are excited and hopeful that better things might be in store.


The sudden downturn in the economy of the United States brought comparisons with the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of 1932. The election of Barack Obama suggests that we may be reawakening the spirit of the New Deal.

One thing which was a part of the New Deal of the 1930’s was the WPA. Large and targeted investment in the arts was an important part of it. Musicians, actors, visual artists and writers were all supported.

I suggest that the time is right for Local 802 and the Power Boosters to be the initiators in putting together a coalition of organizations interested in promoting music and the arts to bring back something like the WPA for the arts.

We bailed out the banks — now let’s bail out the artists! 

This is Executive Board member Ethan Fein’s fourth article in the Music & Power series for Allegro about corporate campaign strategies that he’s learned at the Cornell Union Leadership Institute.