Letters to the editor

Volume 120, No. 6June, 2020

Local 802 member Ken Rizzo’s daughter Elena customized her father’s favorite bass with original artwork

To the Editor:

Last Year, I bought yet another instrument: a 2013 Fender five-string American Standard Jazz Bass. Equipped with Custom Shop pickups, it’s become my number-one bass. However, I was never crazy about the instrument’s appearance. The blue body is O.K. But it came with this dull, plain, off-white pickguard, on which could be seen a shadowy imprint of where a store’s sticker had once been.

I was going to buy a tortoise shell replacement. Then I thought, let me ask my 11-year-old daughter Elena if she could paint something on the original pickguard. By all objective accounts, she is a very good artist. From the moment she was able to hold a crayon she never stopped liking to express herself through drawing and color. Of course, I’m her greatest fan.

She said yes to the project but it lay dormant for months (11-year olds are very busy people).

Then came the coronavirus pandemic. Though in daily “virtual school,” she nevertheless had more time to devote to back-burner affairs.

After I traced some templates of the “canvas” on paper, she was ready to begin working. I told her I wanted the painting to have a lot of movement, and her ideas began to flow.

She did a few colored pencil versions on the templates and I chose one that blew me away. Once we chose paints that best matched the pencil colors she had used, she summarily began the detailed painting that would become the final product.

I’m thrilled with the result. And as a commissioned work, she was paid well for her artistry. Now if I only had a gig where I can enjoy playing the instrument and praise Elena’s talent at the same time. I look forward to that day!

— Ken Rizzo

Trying to understand the cutbacks at Local 802 and what they mean for staff

To the Editor:

On April 20, the membership was sent an e-mail informing us of the need to reduce expenses at 802. Actions taken included putting a large number of the 802 staff on emergency leave.

Although I asked a couple of questions, I never received a response and am forwarding my query to the membership at large. I would like to know if the staff that has been laid off will continue to get health care coverage, something they need now more than ever. Are there any guarantees about rehiring them when life returns to “normal”? As a union, our first priority should be workers, whether they are members of 802 or our employees.

My other question that went unanswered concerns whether the executives at 802 have taken a reduction in pay to help alleviate the financial stress on the union. Although I am sure they are all working hard during this difficult time, a percentage decrease in executive salaries is very common, particularly when other employees are losing their entire incomes.

Thank you very much and best wishes to all,

— Laura Conwesser

Local 802 responds: The union has been forced to take the unprecedented step of placing nearly 75 percent of our staff on emergency leave to conserve our members’ resources. This step was taken as a last resort and with much deliberation and regret as we not only work with our staff but consider them part of the 802 family. While we continue to employ some people on a part-time basis to process recording checks, the revenue is nowhere near enough to maintain the union at full staffing. In the coming months we will be facing nearly zero income. It is not fiscally responsible nor could we in good conscience continue to keep employees on the payroll with nothing to do while our entire membership is unemployed.

We recognize the necessity of health insurance at this difficult time and the employees who have been placed on leave will continue to receive health benefits as long as it is practicable to do so. Additionally, recognizing the gravity of the situation, the officers, including the Executive Board and all remaining staff have accepted a salary decrease.

We are looking forward to the day when our musical and work lives return to normal.