Labor History is Right Now
Volume 115, No. 5May, 2015
May is Labor History Month, so it’s appropriate that I begin by talking about Local 802’s involvement in the rally for a $15 minimum wage that took place on April 15. This movement started in New York City in 2012 when fast food workers walked off their jobs in protest, which was the largest strike in the history of the fast food industry. This year’s rallies took place in 200 cities all across the country including New York, L.A., Boston and Atlanta. Over 60,000 workers took part. Local 802 and other entertainment unions marched together in solidarity.
There are at least three reasons why Local 802 members should be supportive of this campaign. The first is simple justice. We should all want workers to earn a living wage. The second is practical. More money in people’s pockets means more spending, which boosts the entire economy. (Also, more money in people’s pockets means more discretionary income available to spend on music and the arts, which obviously helps our field.)
The third reason involves a bigger picture. For years, unions have been attacked and beaten down. Many mainstream people today don’t have a clear picture of what unions are about. Many workers themselves don’t even realize they have the right and authority to stick up for themselves. This is why the “Fight for $15” movement is important. It has a tangible, winnable goal that has caught the public’s imagination and attention. More than that, it’s encouraging workers to stand up for themselves in collective action. Workers see themselves winning and being supported by the public, and that gives them hope. A $15 minimum wage is being phased in through a new law in Seattle. Walmart and McDonalds have increased the minimum wage it offers some of its workers; these minimums are still far short of $15 per hour and are not going to benefit everyone, but the important thing is that workers are seeing that their protests are making a difference across the country.
The “Fight for $15” movement is being paid for, in part, by various unions (especially the SEIU), which means that at its heart, this is about the labor movement investing in a new generation of workers and reinvigorating itself. More importantly, it’s about the labor movement standing up for economic justice in a smart, strategic way.
However you look at it, there are so many reasons why this campaign is inspiring and important. As union members, we can feel hopeful that once again, people can make a difference when they act in solidarity together. Labor history is happening right now.
GOOD FINANCIAL HEALTH
Another reason that we can feel hopeful is that Local 802’s finances are in excellent shape. This issue of Allegro contains our audited financial reports and columns by Financial Vice President Tom Olcott and Controller Cathy Camiolo. I’m pleased to report that Local 802 experienced a gain of over $400,000 in 2014. Much of this was due to a phenomenal year on Broadway, but our increased income also means that work for musicians is picking up all over. All of us at Local 802 take our mission very seriously and that includes taking good care of your money.
STANDING UP FOR MUSICIANS’ RIGHTS
Just a few days before the “Fight for $15” rally, I had the honor of sharing the stage with Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who is one of the sponsors of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015. The bill would require AM/FM radio stations to pay musicians (and copyright holders) when their music is heard on the radio. Currently, only songwriters and publishers get paid for AM/FM broadcasts. This bill could put real money in the pockets of our members, many of whom have recorded on classic albums over the past 30 years. Also with me were Rep. Marsha Blackburn, AFM President Ray Hair, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White, MusicFIRST Executive Director Ted Kalo, Elvis Costello, Roseanne Cash, Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Gaynor, Martha Reeves, Marc Ribot, Cassandra Wilson and many other legendary artists.
The AFM is a founding member of the MusicFIRST coalition, which supports the bill. Executive Director Ted Kalo said, “Thanks to Reps. Nadler and Blackburn, we stand at the doorway of an incredible opportunity – a once-in-a-generation chance to make radio work better for music creators, radio services, and, most importantly, music fans. It is time for Congress to update music licensing laws. Fair market value for music will encourage creativity by music creators. It will promote innovation among music services. And – most importantly – it will give fans the best music they have ever heard – delivered in the most exciting ways they could ever imagine.”
In more legislative news, over the past few months, Local 802 joined a coalition called “New York is Music” to advocate for a music tax credit for our recording industry in New York State. Our message was clear: New York’s historic record industry has involved some of the best musicians and infrastructure in the world, and it is essential to support incentives that will keep recording jobs here. Local 802 was joined in this effort by the New York State Conference of Musicians, the RMA and the Content Creators Coalition. The result has been the inclusion in the state budget of recording as a category in the Excelsior Jobs Program, which rewards industries that create jobs with tax incentives. This inclusion is a good first step, although there is still work to be done to ensure that the incentives reward the recording industry for creating jobs for musicians and other recording industry professionals. We intend to continue working with the coalition toward this end, and to continue stressing the importance of recording to our state’s economic and cultural life. Our Political Director Maya Kremen explains more in her story. (Maya did a great job in advocating for the tax credits, including an appearance on NY1.)
NEWS FROM LINCOLN CENTER
We’d like to welcome Frank Huang, who has been appointed concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic starting this fall. Mr. Huang follows Glenn Dicterow, who stepped down from his position after 34 seasons of service. Currently concertmaster of the Houston Symphony, Mr. Huang is also an accomplished chamber musician, and serves on the faculty at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and the University of Houston. “I am truly honored to be given the opportunity to hold this position once occupied by such giants of the orchestral world as Glenn Dicterow and John Corigliano Sr.” said Mr. Huang, in a statement issued by the New York Philharmonic. “It is a privilege to join this ensemble of incredibly talented musicians, and my deepest appreciation goes out to Alan Gilbert and the members of the Philharmonic for their belief in me. I look forward to returning to New York City and to making music with the great New York Philharmonic.”
Besides having a new concertmaster this fall, the home of the New York Philharmonic will also have a new name. Avery Fisher Hall will be renamed David Geffen Hall, thanks to a $100 million donation by the media magnate. The money will help with the hall’s renovation, which is scheduled to begin in 2019.
Another change at Lincoln Center is that the Met Opera will soon have a new president and chief executive of the board. According to the New York Times, Kevin W. Kennedy is not running for re-election of the board. The board’s executive committee has recommended Judith-Ann Corrente be nominated to succeed him. In other Met news, meetings continue on a regular basis with the independent financial analyst for oversight and input on how best to keep the Met on sound financial footing.
REST IN PEACE
This has been a real time of loss for trumpet players. We just said goodbye to John Ware, the legendary co-principal trumpeter of the New York Philharmonic. He joins Clark Terry, Joe Wilder, Lew Soloff, Wilmer Wise and Spanky Davis in the honor roll of Local 802 trumpeters who recently passed away. Other musicians who we remember in this issue include Lloyd Buchanan, Rick Chamberlain (who left us way too soon), the legendary contractor Emile Charlap, Israel Chorberg, Peter James Dimitriades, Frank Modica Jr., Lesley Davison Perrin, the music copyist Ken Williams and bassist Chris White. See Requiem, and reminiscences A Tribute to my Friends and Remembering Emile Charlap, as well as tribute letters in the Musicians’ Voice.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
As usual, we have a lot of great content to share with you this issue:
- For Labor History Month, see a great piece by John O’Connor about labor songs and our annual Labor History Month calendar. Also see Maggie Russell-Brown’s organizing story Let’s Dream Big.
- We’re honored to present an interview with Met Opera concertmaster David Chan.
- Have you heard the phrase “net neutrality” but have no idea what it means and whether it’s good or bad? Harvey Mars has all the answers.
- The Music Performance Trust Fund recently won a grant to help present music in senior centers. Local 802 musician Richard Frank kicked off the series, and he was introduced by none other than Rosanne Cash.
After several months of negotiating, we reached agreement for a new collective bargaining agreement with City Center, covering the Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert series. The contract has a three-year term and includes wage increases in each year of the agreement, as well as improvements to the existing cartage language and the addition of string bowing preparation fees. Most notably, we were able to negotiate for the addition of a hard-fought primary hiring list, the first of which will be included in this agreement. The new provisions include a process of several steps the company will be required to utilize, including a specialized grievance procedure, before the removal of a protected musician from the primary hiring list.
We also recently achieved a renewal agreement with Inside Broadway, the organization that teaches the joy of live musical theatre to the next generation of audience members. Finally, we signed contracts covering musicians for the shows “Disenchanted,” “The Tallest Tree in the Forest” and “Table.” If you get called to play a musical theatre job, please call our Theatre Department at (212) 245-4802 to make sure you’re getting the wages and benefits you deserve.
- I will soon be traveling to Belgrade to take part in meetings of the Societies’ Council for the Collective Management of Performers’ Rights (“SCAPR”), based in Brussels, Belgium. This will be a general meeting of its 52 collective management organizations (“CMO’s”) on May 18, 19 and 20. As I have reported previously, many foreign CMO’s collect rights money under the provisions of the Rome Convention and its successor treaties when U.S.-made content is consumed in their respective countries, but do not forward the remuneration to the U.S. artists and musicians who made the recordings. Because of the amount of content production that for many decades was captured in New York and performed by Local 802 members, my attendance at the SCAPR meetings will greatly serve the interests of Local 802 musicians.
- The Local 802 Executive Board recently voted to once again co-sponsor this year’s Piano in the Park series at Bryant Park.
- There have been some recent issues with the fog and smoke machine at “Les Misérables.” The Local 802 Executive Board has authorized the hiring of a certified industrial hygienist/chemical engineer to evaluate the smoke and fog effects on the orchestra at the musical. The air quality expert will propose various solutions in an effort to protect the orchestra from being directly impacted by smoke and fog-related chemicals.
Let’s end on a light note. It’s spring, and it’s ball season. Thanks to increased interest, Local 802 is now sponsoring two softball teams. You can watch our teams in action Mondays at noon and 2 p.m. at the Heckscher ballfields in Central Park (enter at 62nd Street and Central Park West). Come out, enjoy the beautiful weather, and support our teams! If you’re interested in joining, contact Clint Sharman at Clint@TromboneMan.com or (917) 440-5566.