With little fanfare, Local 802 reached an important milestone on Nov. 1 – we paid off the mortgage on our headquarters building, years ahead of schedule. Soaring real estate prices have driven many businesses and nonprofits out of Manhattan in recent years, or consumed huge portions of their budgets. But thanks to the foresight of 802 leaders and members, the union hasn’t had to worry about rising rents since we moved to our own building on West 48th Street almost ten years ago. Now, we don’t have to meet monthly mortgage payments either.
The union has been prepaying the mortgage balance over a period of several years, as cash reserves accumulated. A final payment in November completed the paydown.
President Bill Moriarity points out that 802 will reap substantial savings every year, because we will no longer be paying interest on the mortgage. In 1995, for example, mortgage interest came to $195,300. In 1998, it was $94,680.
Early in the new Members Party administration, an 802 membership meeting adopted a bylaw resolution increasing work dues by half a percent. Half of the increase was to be used to build 802’s strike fund to $500,000, and then to create a building fund. The resolution was introduced by Executive Board member Jack Gale, then a rank-and-file member.
The actual purchase of the building wasn’t possible for a number of years, because Manhattan real estate hit another peak as Local 802’s lease on its 42nd Street offices was entering its final few years. But then real estate prices crashed, and the union located a six-story building on West 48th Street that seemed ideally suited to our needs.
The history of the purchase was outlined by then-President John Glasel, in his President’s Report in January 1992. “If all goes according to plan, 1992 will go down in history as the year New York’s musicians finally got a home of their own,” Glasel wrote. “No matter what else happens, it will be a banner year for Local 802.”
2001 has been another banner year for 802 – the year we burned our mortgage!