October 23 Membership Meeting

President's Report

Volume 119, No. 9October, 2019

The upcoming Oct. 23 membership meeting at Local 802 is extremely important. There will be a presentation by the DCINY Organizing Committee outlining their successful efforts this past summer and an update on their continued fight for a first contract this fall. The lessons these musicians learned during the DCINY organizing campaign will be a foundation for what is possible from new organizing efforts at Local 802. At the membership meeting we will also present and vote on a proposed amendment to the union’s bylaws that would put into effect new anti-bullying and anti-harassment rules. The consequences of this bylaw are intended to be profound.

Even though sexual harassment is already against the law, many musicians put up with ugly and even illegal behavior every day. (In the September issue of Allegro, we published an anonymous letter exactly to this point.) Why don’t more musicians take a stand against bullies or harassers? One reason is that making a claim of sexual harassment or bullying can initiate a seemingly unclear process and the claim is often hard to prove.

Our new bylaw amendment aims to make it easier to stand up against bullies or harassers by making such behavior against Local 802 bylaws. Our current bylaws already prohibit discrimination but don’t specifically refer to harassment. The proposed bylaw amendment would specifically prohibit a member of Local 802 from directly or indirectly harassing another member in work environments or “work-related settings outside the workplace,” including cyber-bullying. I encourage you to read the exact text of the bylaw resolution, which was printed in the September 2019 issue of Allegro as part of the Executive Board minutes of Tuesday, July 30, 2019 and is available online at (We’re also reprinting it in this issue on page 45.)

This new anti-harassment language tries to be both detailed and exhaustive. It tries to take into account many scenarios of discrimination, harassment or bullying – including cyber-bullying – and it refers to both the “workplace” and “work-related settings.” The bylaw language also attempts to protect whistleblowers – those who report harassment.

Obviously, one of the hallmarks of our democracy – and our union – is that everyone is innocent unless proven guilty and everyone has the right to due process. Our goal is not to create dozens of new cases every month in front of the Trial Board. Instead, our hope is that this language stops bullies and harassers in their tracks and makes them realize that, for the first time, they’re vulnerable to the union’s bylaws. Remember that the consequences for violating the union’s bylaws can include fines and expulsion from the union. This administration wants to be clear just how serious we are in fighting bullying, cyber-bullying and harassment.

I would like to personally thank 802 Harassment Committee members who have spent a number of months working on this bylaw proposal along with the Executive Board and 802 Managing Director Jonathan Kantor. The shared vision for this bylaw proposal and call-to-action really is a product of the committee’s hard work and perseverance, along with help from the administration on an important issue facing this union. As always collective action and engagement yields results. I personally endorse this bylaw proposal and encourage all members to vote in its favor.

One final note. Last spring Local 802 created an updated procedure for reporting sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination. This information will be explained in detail at the membership meeting which will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. here at Local 802.


I recently attended the annual gathering of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians. ICSOM is an AFM “players’ conference” – similar to a coalition or caucus of musicians – which has official standing in our union. At this conference, Karen Fisher and I learned about the latest issues confronting orchestras across the United States. We also got an update on the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians’ lockout, which is ongoing.


In NYC, Local 802 continues to build trust and engagement among 802 musicians by listening to them first and then giving musicians the tools to empower themselves, which is what good organizing has always done. Our first collective success as a union in this field was with the musicians of Distinguished Concerts International New York. This success came directly from the collective efforts put forth by the DCINY musicians along with the help of 802 Organizer Lily Paulina. It is important to note that this organizing effort was led by the DCINY musicians themselves. Our administration has been there to be a partner and to provide every resource we have at 802 in order for these courageous musicians to be successful. Read about this organizing victory in the musicians’ own words on page 6. (Thanks to Lily for being the point person on this article.)


There are some great stories in this issue of Allegro. I’d like to start by highlighting two of them, one by a current Executive Board member and one by a former Executive Board member. Both stories are about union democracy, the importance of member engagement, and the power of collective action. On page 15, Kyle Hoyt asks musicians not to see themselves as islands, isolated in their efforts to address industry wide problems. “You are part of a larger collective that is here to support you through good and difficult times throughout your career,” Kyle writes. “Don’t go it alone, we are all Local 802, and we need your participation!”

Sara Cutler, who served as chair of both the NYC Ballet committee and the American Symphony Orchestra committee, has a similar message on page 16. Her piece is titled “The History, Function and Strengths of our Union’s Committee System,” and one of her points is that when we really listen to each other, musicians become empowered and engaged. And that engagement leads to collective action which is our best leverage in any negotiation.

Increasing the diversity at Local 802 is one of our administration’s goals. On page 18, please read about Local 802 members Emily Pecoraro and Roxy Coss and how their Women in Jazz Organization is mentoring young women and non-binary people. Likewise, on page 20, please enjoy our tribute to National Hispanic Heritage Month, with incredible reminiscences from Rosa Avila, Mariana Ramirez, Victor Pablo and Audrey Flores.

Also in this issue, we’re pleased to feature an interview on page 26 with violinist Ken Gordon, an esteemed former member of the New York Philharmonic and Met Opera. Ken is also one of the musicians featured in the Local 802 Senior Concert Orchestra, founded in 1966, which performs this month at Carnegie Hall.

For 52 years, the annual Tony Awards ceremony has been broadcast from New York City into the homes of millions of Americans nationwide. On that Sunday night in June, from the minute the green light flicks on until the very last notes of the outro music, a house orchestra of Local 802 musicians is waiting for cues during the live show and ensuring that the music on Broadway’s biggest night is performed flawlessly. The story of this legendary Tonys orchestra has rarely been told…until now. This June, Maria DiPasquale visited the orchestra in rehearsal at the DiMenna Center to talk all bout the Tony Awards. Read her story on page 10.

We are honored to publish a guest commentary on page 23 by Pat White, President of the Theatrical Wardrobe Union (IATSE Local 764), which represents over 1,600 workers who care for costumes on all kinds of productions in the New York City area. Their work takes place on movie and TV sets, in costume shops, on Broadway, and at many other live theatrical events. Pat says that musicians and wardrobe workers are natural allies on Broadway, and I couldn’t agree more.


Between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, new members of Local 802 can join and pay no initiation fee. If you have any friends who aren’t members of the union yet, tell them that now is the time to join! To join Local 802, call (212) 245-4802 and ask for the Membership Department, or visit