Members Pass Dues Increase

Public Relations and Staffing Levels Become Key Issues

Volume CIII, No. 12December, 2003

Mikael Elsila

Members voted to raise dues at the Oct. 21 membership meeting by a secret-ballot vote of 91-43. It was the first time since 1996 that annual dues have gone up – and the first time since 1984 that the work dues percentage was increased.



Annual dues were $170 Annual dues will be $182 in 2004, $194 in 2005, $206 in 2006 and $208 in 2007.
Work dues on non-electronic work, like symphonic engagements, theatre work and club dates, was 3%. Work dues on this work is now 3.5%
Work dues on electronic work, including recording, was 3.5% Work dues on this work is now 4%
Work dues on teaching engagements was 1.5% Work dues on this work is now 2%

The increase in dues is expected to bring in an anticipated additional $600,000 annually to the union.

“I can assure you that this Executive Board and these officers would not have come to you for increases in dues had we not felt it was necessary,” said 802 President Bill Moriarity. “We feel that the dues increase is not being proposed as a short-term stopgap, but will make us whole for at least the midterm foreseeable future.”

“We don’t bring this to you lightly,” said Bill Dennison, assistant to the president. “If the union is going to be able to continue the kind of services that you expect and rightly demand, I think this increase is necessary. If you think the kind of public relations effort that we made during the Broadway campaign is wise, useful and needed going forward, then you have to vote for this increase.”

802’s dues increase occurred four months after the AFM had increased its own dues at the annual convention. The AFM had mandated that locals pay an additional $2 per member per year to the Federation. The AFM package had included other revenue boosters as well, including musicians’ fees on Special Payments distributions. All of these increases will bring in $1.1 million annually in additional income to the AFM.

Likewise, 802 had gone from a gain of $246,000 in the year 2000 to a loss of $364,000 just two years later. Much of the loss had to do with spending money on public relations and the union’s Live Music Campaign in the years leading up to the 2003 Broadway negotiations. The Broadway strike also drained some of the union’s resources.

802 Controller Jon Bogert said that the union’s expenses were expected to grow at 3 percent annually while revenues would grow by 2 percent. This has been the pattern for the last several years, he said. Without an increase in revenue, Local 802 would continue to show growing losses into the future.

But with the members’ support of the dues increase, these losses will now be stopped.


Technically, the increase was passed in the form of a bylaw resolution, which was printed in advance in the September issue of Allegro. (The AFM resolution, passed at the 2003 AFM Convention in June, was also printed in the same issue.)

The resolution raises annual dues by $12 per year for three years in a row starting in 2004, followed by a single $2 increase in 2007. These increases include the $2 per year that the AFM mandated.

The resolution also increases work dues to 3.5 percent from the current 3 percent for nonelectronic work, like symphonic engagements, theatre work or club dates. Work dues for electronic work – including recording – will be 4 percent instead of 3.5 percent. (This brings 802’s recording work dues levels to the same as the Los Angeles local.)

The resolution also requires officers of Local 802 to pay work dues of 3.5 percent on their salaries – just like rank-and-file members.


As part of the resolution, the union will set aside half of the increase in work dues (0.25 percent) for the sole purpose of funding public relations programs. It was the union’s effective public relations – plus the activism of the members – that many felt helped clinch the Broadway deal.

While several members questioned the wisdom of increasing dues to aid public relations, trumpeter Jimmy Owens, jazz liaison to the Executive Board, said that money for public relations was crucial to fight anti-union employers. “When we speak about Disney, when we speak about the management of Broadway – they have histories of nonunion activity,” Owens said. “They don’t like unions: especially Disney. And they have enough money to buy people’s imaginations very fast. They could run advertisements in the New York Times – full-page advertisements – and not miss the money. We could do it for two days and our money would be gone.”

Other members questioned the concept of raising work dues. Some thought that raising annual dues by a greater amount – instead of work dues – would be one way to solve the union’s financial problems.

Executive Board member Jack Gale and others responded to these opinions by saying that increasing the annual dues significantly would cause a large attrition of members. “One of the problems that we encounter every time we raise annual dues is that a large number of people drop out of the union,” Gale said.

Moriarity agreed but said he didn’t know what the “breakpoint” was where members would start leaving the union if annual dues were increased too much.


David Lennon, 802 assistant director, spoke about the belt-tightening that the union has already undertaken, primarily in the form of not filling open jobs.

“A cutback to the union hurts you,” Lennon said. “This is not just about maintaining our ability to represent you. This is about restoring what we cut back and expanding our initiatives if we’re to face the future in any realistic and strong position. When times are tough, the union needs to be strong – the union needs to be able to fight for you harder.”

Lennon, who is running unopposed for president of 802, acknowledged that the Executive Board did not make this proposal lightly. He emphasized the importance of justifying such an increase and outlined a plan he had submitted to the board that would restore key positions and increase services in the Concert, Theatre and Organizing departments. He also said the possibility of assigning a rep to cover the Lincoln Center orchestras “needs to be seriously looked at.” Lennon’s staffing proposals would cost around $150,000 annually.

He also cited the many fights ahead that will require increased resources. The New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, New York City Opera and Met contracts are all up for renegotiation in the next administration’s three year term – as are the master freelance concert agreement and the master club date agreement.

Lennon added that public relations and organizing were priorities for the union. “For the union to grow and be strong, we need to expand, not decrease our organizing efforts,” he said.

A total of six bylaw resolutions had been submitted for the meeting. Members voted to consider the dues increase first. After the dues increase passed, enough members left the meeting so that a quorum was no longer present and the meeting was adjourned. The other resolutions (which were also printed in September’s Allegro) will have to be reintroduced by members and cannot be passed solely by the Executive Board.