Organize for Health Care

Volume CII, No. 5May, 2002

Before musicians get in the position of not having health insurance, they should consider taking a form of preventative care.

“The first thing we’d ask members who aren’t covered by the union’s health plan to do is to call the Organizing Department,” said Joe Eisman, Director of Organizing. “That’s how musicians can get on the union’s health plans in the first place: by helping to make their jobs union. All of the major fields – from Broadway to club dates to recording – were once nonunion and didn’t pay benefits. It was only through members helping to unionize their jobs that the work is now union and musicians now receive health contributions.”

For example, many 802 members make their living as teachers. New York has hundreds of music schools, from brownstone walk-ups to multi-building centers. Many of these schools don’t pay health insurance or pension – a sad fact that Local 802 is helping to change. Over the last three years, the union has won campaigns with teachers who work at the Early Ear, Midori and Friends Foundation, and in two departments at the New School. A contract also exists with Music Outreach. Most of these music teachers now have some form of health insurance.

“If you work for a music school or do a lot of work that has traditionally been seen as nonunion, then please call the Organizing Department or the 802 hotline,” said Eisman. “That’s the only way we can make lasting, structural change.”