Local 802 endorses Barack Obama

President's Report

Tino Gagliardi

Local 802 musicians brought music to a protest outside of Merkin Hall in support of the stagehands’ union (IATSE, Local 1). As Allegro went to press, the stagehands were attempting to finalize their contract with the venue.
Photo: Steve Singer

As the race for the White House reaches its final stretch, I want to let members know that the Local 802 Executive Board has unanimously endorsed Barack Obama for president. In this issue of Allegro, you’ll hear from fellow members about who they intend to vote for and why.

We understand that voting is a highly personal decision and that some of you may wish that the union stay completely neutral. The reason we can’t is that – much as some would like to believe otherwise – national politics do in fact influence our members professionally.

The recession of the past several years has affected every industry deeply, and none more so than the arts, which are always on the front line of spending cuts. We desperately need leadership in this country that will not only make the arts a priority but also get the entire economy moving again, so that consumers and audience members have money to spend. We believe that Barack Obama will move the country more in that direction that Mitt Romney.

It’s unfortunate that the economy is still in the dumps, because it’s easy to blame President Obama for not doing more. However, we believe that the president can take credit for easing the recession and preventing a full-blown second Great Depression in spite of Congress blocking many of his programs.

One of President Obama’s main accomplishments was the stimulus package: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. That effort pumped just under $1 trillion into the economy. (See for where that money has gone.)

We also believe that the president saved the auto industry and millions of autoworker jobs. Those jobs keep people spending, and let’s face it – we need people to spend money on the arts, whether that means visiting New York City to see a live show or supporting arts in their own hometown.

We also feel that the president’s health care law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) will bring health insurance to many more people, including many members of Local 802 who can’t afford union coverage. It’s not universal health care, but it’s an historic step forward. 

From what we know of Mitt Romney, we believe he would cut as much spending as possible, which would starve cities and make the fragile recovery much more difficult. We need investment, not more cuts.

For those reasons, and many more, we endorse Barack Obama. We completely respect the fact that some members may disagree with us. We are committed to listening to you, and we care about what you think. You can e-mail me personally at, or e-mail a letter to Allegro at

Please remember to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6. If you don’t know where to vote, start at You can also call (800) 367-8683. For more info, including a full list of Local 802’s endorsements, please contact my assistant K.C. Boyle at (212) 245-4802, ext. 176 or

Player conference reports

Last month was a busy one for player conferences. AFM player conferences are an integral component of the democratic structure of our union. The AFM player conferences include the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSOM), the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA), the Recording Musicians Association (RMA), and the Theatre Musicians Association (TMA).

Out of these five, I had the pleasure of attending the annual conferences of TMA, ICSOM, and OCSOM.

At TMA, there was a real energy of activism sparking among the delegates. The new Pamphlet B Theatrical Touring agreement was a big topic of conversation. The agreement was successfully negotiated by representatives of TMA along with AFM President Ray Hair and several local officers. It includes economic gains and it eliminates the “tiers” or levels of compensation based on the budget of a particular touring production.

ICSOM was equally exciting as the conference was celebrating its 50th anniversary. There was also a strong sense of concern amongst the delegates as the symphonic world continues to be under attack in the U.S. The conference included a very informative set of sessions with participation by several legal counselors including our own Bruce Simon and Harvey Mars. Mel Schwartzwald, who represents the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, was also on hand to share viewpoints and opinions regarding the difficult negotiations most lawyers and local unions representing the symphony, opera, and ballet musicians are currently facing.

Finally came OCSOM, which I am happy to say was both enjoyable and informative. Orchestras in Canada face their own difficulties, especially in the area of electronic media, and they are rising to the challenge.

All in all it was a busy but informative couple of weeks, the highlight of which was being witness to union democracy at work.

AFM organizing summit

In coordination with AFM President Ray Hair, Local 802 hosted an organizing summit in the club room to discuss the future of organizing in the AFM.

President Hair opened the meeting talking about the difference between recruiting and organizing. He reminded us that “recruiting is a byproduct of organizing, which is the only solution for building a future for this union.”

Local 802 Recording Vice President John O’Connor organized the event, which included a presentation on the building blocks of organizing conducted by Paul Frank, deputy organizing director of the New York civil service workers’ union (CSEA Local 1000).

Frank was the organizing director for the AFM in the late 1990s when the Federation successfully conducted the STAR campaign to bring Tejano musicians under the SRLA, using leverage strategies.

At least nine local unions attended the summit, including representatives from New Brunswick, Boston, Baltimore, Hartford, St. Louis, Miami, Portland and Los Angeles.

President Hair said the summit “was an opportunity for the new AFM administration to renew and re-dedicate the Federation to the vital task of organizing.”

Hair added, “We thank Local 802 and CSEA Organizing Director Paul Frank for their contributions and we look forward to following up with additional organizing meetings.”

We hope the summit will lead to a unified organizing strategy for the Federation and its locals. We find ourselves at a juncture where the leadership of the AFM and many of its locals are more committed to organizing than at any time since the beginning of the AFM. I predict that the summit will prove to be a seminal event for musicians and their union. Stay tuned.

A win for “Once” musicians

It always pays to record under a union contract. Local 802 and the AFM recently won an argument with Sony, which had been reluctant to pay the actor/musicians of the Broadway show “Once” for the cast recording. The label had argued that the actor/musicians were not entitled to payments under the Sound Labor Recording Agreement since they were already paid for the live show. That argument held no water, and musicians were ultimately able to collect the payments they deserved for the recording.

Whenever you are called to do any recording work, please make a confidential call to the union at (212) 245-4802. Ask for a recording rep. Our job is to protect you and to make sure you receive the wages and benefits you are entitled to.

Off Broadway roundup

Our theatre department is doing a great job negotiating contracts that protect our Off Broadway musicians. We recently achieved agreements for “Serrano,” “Triassic Parq,” “The Last Smoker in America,” “National Pastime,” “Little Dancer,” and for the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor. For details of these agreements, contact Claudia Copeland at or (212) 245-4802, ext. 158.

If you are called to play a theatre music job of any kind – no matter how small – please call the union. We can help you win the wages and benefits you deserve while protecting your identity and your job. Likewise, if you are a theatre producer, please do the right thing and call the union. Help us keep a level playing field, which ultimately will give everyone equal access to the best New York City musicians.

Congrats, Mario

I would like to personally congratulate Mario Cilento, who was unanimously re-elected by the delegates of the 32nd Constitutional Convention of the New York State AFL-CIO to a four-year term as president. His dedication and tireless efforts in representing and advocating for the nearly 2.5 million members in New York State ensures that we are in good hands.