Local 802 Proposes Dues Increase

Volume CIII, No. 9September, 2003

Tina Hafemeister

Local 802’s Executive Board has submitted a bylaw that would increase both annual dues and work dues and will be voted on at the Oct. 21 membership meeting.

The proposed bylaw includes increases in per capita annual dues of $2 in each year beginning Jan. 1, 2004 through 2007, to be paid to the AFM as required by the 2003 Convention (see story here).

The Local 802 Executive Board is proposing additional increases of $10 in 2004, 2005 and 2006 as well as a 0.5 percent increase in all work dues effective Jan. 1, 2004.

The local’s income, which comes exclusively from dues, is not keeping pace with expenses. This year the union’s General Fund (those funds available for unrestricted use in running the union) faces a projected deficit of $250,000 on top of actual losses in 2002 of $363,747 and $114,000 in 2001.

The numbers indicate that some difficult decisions must be made. Given that our expenses continue to increase, we must look at ways to balance costs with income. Our greatest expense is in staff wages and benefits. While the officers have decided not to lay off staff, a hiring freeze was instituted in 2002. This led to the attrition of one recording business rep, three clerical employees and one organizer.

To decrease staff at this point would have an adverse effect on the union’s ability to provide critical services. Local 802 has had no annual dues increase since 1996 and no increase in work dues since 1984. Given the necessity of maintaining current staffing levels and in order to avoid ongoing losses, it is with great reluctance that the officers have concluded that dues increases are unavoidable.

A new administration, which will be in place as of Jan. 1, will face many challenges during its first year alone that will require financial stability. A number of major contracts will expire in the next year and negotiations will stretch the resources of the union.

Two major contracts expiring in spring of 2004 are the club date master agreement and the contract covering jazz instructors at the New School. In addition, the New York Philharmonic and Madison Square Garden agreements will expire in the fall of that year, as well as the master freelance classical agreement. The union needs sufficient income for negotiations and what may be difficult fights ahead. Increased income will insure that the support staff needed for negotiations will be at full capacity.

Assuming that our membership numbers remain at their current levels (7,600 regular members and 1,600 honor members), the proposed increases in annual dues will yield approximately $76,000 in 2004, $153,000 in 2005 and $229,000 in 2006. After expected expense increases, the 0.5 percent increase in work dues is projected to net $552,000 in the first year, $481,000 in the second year and $389,000 in the third year.

A portion of the losses incurred in 2001 and 2002 can be attributed to the aggressive public relations efforts in conjunction with the recent Broadway contract campaign. Over $400,000 was spent in a two-and-a-half year period on radio spots, monthly Playbill ads and a monthly retainer to a major public relations firm.

These activities contributed directly to the excellent television and press coverage we received both before and during the eventual strike. Our success in that campaign and feedback from the membership indicate that we should continue our public relations efforts, possibly at an increased level.

To that end, the bylaw includes a provision for 0.25 percent, or half of the proposed work dues increase, to be dedicated for use in public relations programs.

A stable and healthy financial picture is extremely important to the smooth operation of the union and the daily work that goes on as reflected in the quality of service that we provide for our members. The Oct. 21 bylaw meeting attendance will reflect the interest you have in the union as an ongoing institution. The union urges as many members as possible attend so that your voice is heard on this critical decision.

For a complete text of the bylaw resolution, click here. The October membership meeting will take place Tuesday, Oct. 21 at 3 p.m. in the Club Room. Admission, as usual, is by paid-up membership card only.