Musicians Win Back Pension and Workers’ Comp

Volume CIII, No. 3March, 2003

Local 802’s Long Island office recently helped recover over $4,000 in back pension for four musicians – and $37,000 in workers’ compensation for another.

Senior Business Rep Peter Voccola discovered that four club date musicians never ended up on contracts. Musicians know that when they don’t appear on a contract, they might still get paid for a gig but they won’t receive health or pension contributions as well as other benefits.

Union reps can deduce who’s not on a contract when they go out on rounds to visually track musicians playing live dates. This information can later be compared to filed contracts.

In this case, Voccola had made several rounds and later discovered that four musicians from different bands didn’t appear on the right contracts. But all four musicians worked for the same agency – one of the largest single engagement employers.

The employer said that he had inadvertently left the four names off the contract and agreed to make the required back payments, which totaled $4,382.20 in missing pension. As part of the settlement, both the union and employer agreed to keep all names confidential.

Separately, Voccola assisted a musician with an injury case that ended up in front of a workers’ compensation hearing.

This musician had injured himself at the airport while traveling to do an out-of-town Jewish single engagement club date. The employer, one of the largest in the field, claimed that he wasn’t responsible for the musician under state workers’ compensation law. However, a judge found that the employer was indeed responsible and ordered the employer’s insurance company to pay $37,000 to the musician.

The musician is also suing the Port Authority, which runs the airport, for personal injury.

Voccola has been trained as an AFL-CIO “Navigator,” to help workers understand the workers’ comp system. He told Allegro, “It’s very important that musicians know how this system works.” For instance, he said, if you file a workers’ comp claim, it’s crucial that you pay attention to certain details, especially filing deadlines. You should also make sure the most recent medical report in your record is from your own doctor, and that it’s not simply an employer’s medical report. Judges often use a worker’s most recent medical report – no matter who wrote it – to determine a settlement amount.

For more information on filing a workers’ comp claim, contact Voccola at (516) 935-6250.