In mid-February, my office sent out an e-mail blast to all members of Local 802 about a Josh Groban gig that was taking place at Radio City Music Hall. Here’s what we sent out:
AFM members are advised that the Josh Groban show taking place at Radio City Music Hall on Feb. 14, 2020 is not currently covered under a union agreement.
It has been alleged that Steve Trudell/Trudell Orchestras, who is listed on the AFM International Unfair List, may be seeking out local musicians for these engagements.
(Mr. Trudell may be using other entities to hire for this gig under the names of Gina Corso/Jersey Gina, Karen Banos/Rittenhouse Music, or other subcontractors.)
Please be aware that at this time this is a non-union date with no contract protections for fair wages, health & welfare, pension, or other benefits that come with union contracts.
Local 802 has reached out to event producers, who so far have refused to guarantee that musicians hired for these performances will earn fair wages and benefits in line with industry standards.
As professional musicians, we must take a stand against taking jobs at sub-standard rates far below what we deserve. We not only cheat ourselves by accepting such engagements, but we also cheat our colleagues by setting a precedent that it’s acceptable to undervalue us and our work.
Even as we want to encourage our members to help us organize non-union jobs, I want to emphasize that no one should ever look down on musicians who are trying to survive and are forced into the unfair decision to take work that doesn’t value their worth. Many of us have faced this exact scenario more times than we want to admit. It is a reality that over the last 30 years, the amount of work under union contracts – and our membership numbers – have greatly diminished. Decades of attempting to address the problem of non-union work by punishing, threatening or pressuring union members has been an abject failure and, one could argue, has made the problem even worse. The Josh Groban gig was a good example of ground zero where change must start to take place.
Decades ago, in a very different time for our industry, many rank-and-file 802 musicians fought and won advances across our industry. Many of these courageous musicians helped build this union and are still within our ranks today. Unfortunately, as our industry came under increasing pressure, we as a union lost touch with the collective engagement that helped fight and win so many of our important battles. This left generations of musicians disconnected from our union.
There is only one way for our union to get non-union work under a union contract: return to that tradition of community-wide collective engagement and action. We have seen it work. Just look at the solidarity and engagement behind the latest Broadway contract, the rally to support the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Lincoln Center, and the landslide union election victory DCINY orchestra musicians won last year when they organized (see page 6 for an update). Musicians had hard one-on-one conversations with each other and realized that the only way to improve their working conditions was by standing together as a union. This is the fight for our collective future as union musicians – a fight that every 802 musician must take up. Wherever we perform – Lincoln Center, musical theatre, TV bands, jazz clubs, recording studios, music schools, or anywhere else – we have the collective power to change our future for the better as a union.
WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
March is Women’s History Month and we’re honored that our cover story highlights eight musicians and their tips for women on Broadway. These interviews were initiated by Local 802 members Janna Graham and Mariana Ramirez and I thank them for sharing these inspirational journeys. See page 14.
We’re also happy to be publishing an update from Women of 802 (on page 5) as well as several other features:
- The New York Philharmonic is making history by commissioning 19 compositions written by women – the largest such commission ever done – in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which granted women the legal right to vote. See page 9.
- On page 10, please enjoy a timely story about all-women groups in jazz, which features special shout-outs to Local 802 members Roxy Coss and Sherrie Maricle.
- We’re honored to publish a guest commentary by Laura McQuade, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, to commemorate the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. See page 33.
…plus much more! Enjoy this issue!