Negotiations Roundup

Volume CX, No. 7/8July, 2010


The Jazz Foundation of America recently came to the bargaining table to address contract recording language for the JFA’s annual “Great Night in Harlem” gala event.

At issue was a side letter that allowed for pension contributions on future use of recorded product, but no future wages.

Even as JFA and 802 came to an amicable agreement on this issue, Local 802 President Tino Gagliardi also encouraged JFA to pay performing musicians for the full value of their services.

Despite the recession, JFA has continued to raise significant funds every year, and the foundation continues to provide assistance to jazz and blues musicians in need.

The contract was revised to reflect current club date scale and Limited Pressing recording language.

Overall, the performing musicians saw an 18 percent increase in combined wages and benefits contributions over last year.


After almost six months of negotiations, Local 802 and the Elaine Kaufman Center have reached a successor agreement. Sticking points were substantive wage increases and benefits contributions.

Despite best efforts by the union and the Kaufman Center Faculty Committee, after six years under contract, the Kaufman Center has yet to make meaningful contributions into either a pension or health fund, and, until now, wage increases have never risen above 2 percent in any one contract year

In the final round of negotiations, Local 802 Council Harvey Mars, Recording Vice President John O’Connor and a small but determined faculty committee pushed for across-the-board wage increases upwards of 8 percent over three years, and substantive benefits contributions.

There was much haggling over incremental increases. Until the last day of negotiations, the Kaufman Center held fast to its offer of 0 percent in the first year, 0 percent in the second year and 1 percent in the third year.

There was also intransigence by management on basic issues like health benefits eligibility and the right for the bargaining unit to have exclusive access to a faculty lounge.

Ultimately, management hardened its position and refused to accept the union’s proposal, saying that federal mediation was needed.

In response, Local 802 filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board citing refusal to bargain, and went forward with plans to demonstrate outside the Kaufman Center’s annual fundraising gala.

Throughout the negotiation process, the Kaufman Center made clear that their refusal to raise wages and benefits contributions was not based upon its inability to pay.

Public Relations Director Paul Molloy worked behind the scenes with President Tino Gagliardi to appeal to elected officials like Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who was set to be one of the Kaufman Center’s honorees for 2010. Stringer effectively boycotted the May 25 awards ceremony when he learned of the controversy over the disputed agreement.

In the 11th hour, the Kaufman Center offered to return to the table and Local 802 called off the demonstration. A contract was signed on May 26 after over six hours of negotiations.

Wages are set to rise 1 percent in the first year of the contract. (That’s on top of a 2 percent wage increase that the center had implemented as part of a wage opener with the union last October.)

Wages will also rise 2 percent in the second year of the contract and 2.5 percent in the third year.

Health benefits eligibility was increased incrementally, and faculty won the right to be paid in accordance with New York State labor law – twice a month instead of once a month for the previous month’s work, as they had previously been paid.

Faculty now also have the right to be paid by direct deposit.

The bargaining committee consisted of Miho Matsuno, Morrie Sherry, Johanna Kopp, Valerie Holmes and Aaron Butler. Todd Weeks assisted in the negotiations.