Local 661-708 Elects Rank-and-File Leadership

Volume C, No. 2February, 2000

The Atlantic City Musicians’ Union ushered in the new century by electing a new leadership team of rank-and-file musicians. The local, founded on Jan. 30, 1914, is one of the founding units of the American Federation of Musicians. Up until the 1960s it operated with two administrative structures: Local 708, representing Black musicians, and Local 661, representing white musicians performing within its jurisdiction. The locals were merged in the 1960s under a program of unification mandated by the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The new officers are: President Tony Pirollo, Vice-President Richard Genovese, Secretary-Treasurer Carl Matani, and at-large members Robert Cerulli and Michael Pedicin.

Even before the election of new officers, a “Meet The Candidates” membership meeting on Jan. 10 had adopted a special resolution proposed from the floor by rank-and-file musicians, declaring that the first order of business of the new leadership would be a membership drive that would reach out to the entire Atlantic City community, including Black, Latino and Asian musicians. Every candidate for the five-person Leadership Council pledged to build a membership base that represents the entire spectrum of musicians working within the local’s jurisdiction, which extends from Toms River down the seacoast to the tip of New Jersey in Cape May.

The new rank-and-file leadership was elected by an overwhelming two-thirds of the members who voted on Jan. 16, reflecting a new level of energy and commitment to putting the Atlantic City union on the map as a force to be reckoned with in the Casino-Hotel industry.

In their first statement, the new leadership committed themselves to building on the strength of leaders like Bernard Terrence and Patrick Sciarappa, who kept the flame of brotherhood alive in Atlantic City through the “We Care Fund” during a bleak period in the union’s history. “We are launching a campaign to renegotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the giants of the Casino-Hotel industry,” the statement said. “In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to every musician who is employed by the Casino-Hotels to support the campaign to unionize the performance of live music in this industry.

“We will be tapping into the strong and enduring roots of our local that have been kept alive over the years by dedicated members like Brothers Bernard Terrence and Patrick Sciarappa. We are confident that we can hammer out a fair contract with the Casino-Hotels – a contract that will provide a decent living and solid benefits for all of us who have devoted our lives to the perfection of our craft. To Bernie and Pat we say: “Thanks, we will never forget your contribution to Local 661-708. The best token of our appreciation will be a new contract with the Casino-Hotel industry that will make you proud.'”