As Allegro goes to press, Local 802 and the musicians of the Metropolitan Opera are beginning preparations to ramp up the campaign for a new contract. This is going to be a contentious negotiation. Local 802 has never received a set of proposals from the Met that represent such a devastating reduction in compensation and benefits for musicians. The Met’s season closes on May 10 and doesn’t start again until Sept. 22, so we have the summer to work for a deal. We’ll keep you posted. The Met musicians also have an excellent web site and Facebook page. (Start at www.MetOperaMusicians.org.) I urge everyone to visit the site and “like” their Facebook page. It will be important that all musicians come together to support our brothers and sisters who work at this esteemed opera house. And the musicians are not the only ones who are under attack. The singers, stagehands and all union workers at the house are facing the same kinds of onerous proposals to reduce compensation and change work rules. We need to stand united with everyone who makes opera possible at the Met and send a clear message to management that we will not accept any change in our collective agreements that will result in pay cuts. We will not pay for management’s wasteful spending.
As part of our tribute to the wonderful musicians of the Met, we are pleased to feature an interview with Met principal oboist Elaine Douvas.
On a separate note, we also want to acknowledge the passing of Met principal harpist Deborah Hoffman on Feb. 12. Deborah died at the age of 53 after being a member of Local 802 since 1982. We send her friends and family our condolences and sympathy, and will publish an obituary for Deborah in a subsequent issue.
HEALTH PLAN REVISIONS
Because of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as the ACA, or Obamacare), the Local 802 Musicians’ Health Fund had to make important changes, which will be effective Oct. 1, 2014. The goal of these changes is to create a health plan that is compliant with the law and still be a better and less expensive plan than one can find through the ACA/Obamacare “Marketplace” system. For those of our members on Plan A, this will mean that you will be covered by hospitalization insurance for the first time. The changes are posted at www.Local802afm.org/health-benefits, and we also held a special meeting in mid-April to explain the changes to our members. (A video of the meeting is posted online. Click on the video link at the top of the Health Benefits page.) For more about our new health plan changes, see Martha Hyde’s article. In this issue of Allegro, we also have a story on the ACA/Obamacare and other options for health insurance, on page 12. If you have any questions about our health plan – including the new changes – please call our health department at (212) 245-4802.
In April, the AFM launched a national campaign called Listen Up!, with support in New York City from Local 802 musicians and staff. We kicked off the campaign with a leaflet action in front of AMC Empire 25 in Times Square and Regal Union Square Stadium 14. The campaign calls out the motion picture and TV film industry for treating U.S. musicians unfairly by offshoring movie soundtrack recordings. Many offshored soundtrack recordings are made for films funded in part by U.S. taxpayers. The Listen Up! campaign theme is that it is unacceptable for profitable companies to deprive musicians and their communities of good paying jobs by sending the work overseas. It is an injustice to tax-paying musicians to see the very money that we pay to support the many tax breaks afforded the movie industry used to replace us abroad. We were pleased that Local 802 member Gail Kruvand lent her voice to our official press release. Gail stated, “I am proud to say that music is my work. But when companies undermine our livelihoods by sending our jobs overseas, it jeopardizes the future for all working musicians, it hurts our families, and it hurts our communities. That’s why I’m standing here today with other musicians – to tell the film industry, ‘Listen up and do the right thing.’” At Listen Up! kickoff events in other parts of the country, AFM musicians were joined by representatives from the AFL-CIO, and other labor, faith, and community leaders to call on the film industry to stop offshoring film scoring work. AFM president Ray Hair attended the launch rally in Los Angeles. “People who love the movies know that music is the heart and soul of a film. They also know that musicians are vital to the motion picture and TV film industry,” Hair said. “Our work must be afforded the same dignity and respect that other cast and crew members enjoy. We will engage industry leaders on these issues until there is positive change for musicians.” For more information, visit www.ListenUpNow.org where you can sign an online petition.
INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVE BOARD
In late March, I attended a week of meetings with the AFM’s International Executive Board. One of the many important jobs of the IEB is to take up recommendations and resolutions that were referred to us during the last AFM convention. One of these resolutions was submitted by Joe Boettger, the president of AFM Local 542 (Flint, Mich.). The purpose of the resolution is to restructure the local player conferences to coincide with the geographic jurisdictions of the international representatives. I support this resolution because it would combine the individual conferences of the Midwest region as well as the Eastern region, and create larger and stronger networks of locals. This has already occurred in some regions of the United States. The creation of the Western and Southern Conferences, which combined the smaller individual state conferences, resulted in a much more effective and efficient structure. With this combination of resources, there is a bigger opportunity to bring a much needed sharing of information with a broader spectrum of locals. One only has to look at the successes of the Western, Southern and Canadian conferences to see the informational and educational opportunities offered by such a structure. This would not necessarily mean the end of the long-standing local player conferences. At the current Western and Southern conferences, the individual conferences still meet at the larger conference as a representative body to the conference. The IEB has assigned Joe Parente, Bruce Fife and myself to work on how this can be done and to discuss this restructuring with local conference officers. The ultimate goal is to create an event that is worth attending on a higher level to ensure that all the delegates involved will be able to bring something of value back to their locals to create a stronger connection with the AFM. This will give us the opportunity to gain tools that will enable all of us to grow.
Beginning on page 40 of the printed issue, you’ll find the audited financial statements for the period Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2013. Over that time, Local 802 experienced a slight loss of $99,591. As you can read in Controller Cathy Camiolo’s column, much of this loss can be explained by one-time factors, such as our emergency water line service and the cleaning of the air conditioning and heating ducts in the building. As Financial Vice President Tom Olcott says in his column, the union is in very stable shape, a fact of which we are quite proud. We take the finances of the union extremely seriously and we thank you for your trust.
SICK PAY LAW
Paid sick days will be a reality for many New Yorkers, thanks to a new city law that went into effect on April 1. The new law is extremely good news for musicians and other performing artists, who, as a result of Local 802’s lobbying efforts, were specifically included within the scope of the law. For specific examples of how the law will affect musicians, see the story we ran in Allegro last year, at this link: www.bitly.com/sick-pay-law.
NEW CONTRACT FOR TEACHING ARTISTS
Our teaching artist rep Marisa Friedman has reported that teaching artists at the Midori & Friends music school, who are represented by Local 802, recently achieved a three-year contract renewal. Minimum rates will increase to $56 per class by the end of the contract. The artists will earn a 3 percent raise in the first year, and 3.25 percent raises in the second and third years. Health benefits will increase to $11 per class and pension will increase to 10.5 percent over the lifetime of the contract. The new contract also clarifies policies for scheduling and cancellations. If you teach at a music school and are unhappy with your pay or benefits, please give a confidential call to our organizing department at (212) 245-4802.
There will be a bylaw resolution presented at the June 11 membership meeting. The resolution will make it less expensive for most members to rejoin the union if they’ve been terminated or if they’ve resigned. Read the bylaw language, and see the meeting details on the back cover. The Executive Board has recommended adoption of this resolution.
It’s spring, and it’s ball season. Thanks to increased interest, Local 802 is now sponsoring two softball teams. You can watch our teams in action Mondays at noon and 2 p.m. at the Heckscher ballfields in Central Park (enter at 62nd Street and Central Park West). Come out, enjoy the beautiful weather, and support our teams! If you’re interested in joining, there’s still time. Contact Clint Sharman at Clint@TromboneMan.com or (917) 440-5566.
In the last issue of Allegro, we reported that New York Pops co-founder Ruth Henderson passed away on March 4. Actually, she died on Feb. 25.