In the first six months of office, our administration has accomplished a substantial amount of progress on the path to restoring Local 802 to full strength. Here’s our six month report.
RE-OPENING THE UNION
Our administration inherited a union that had been completely closed to the public. In the first six months, we hired safety specialists and invested in new ventilation systems that currently allows our Club Room, Room B, and Recording Checks Window to be open. We hope that the rest of the union building will be completely open soon. Our current hours are posted here.
REHEARSING AT THE UNION
Finding affordable rehearsal space is one of the most difficult challenges musicians must face in New York City. Local 802 is one of the few local unions in the AFM that owns its own building, and we’re happy to be able to rent our rehearsal rooms at a reasonable cost to our members as a perk of union membership. Our rehearsal rooms are available again, and we’ve also installed a Zoom “smart TV” in the Club Room. To make a reservation, click here.
RE-STAFFING THE UNION
Local 802’s staff had fallen to skeletal levels during the pandemic. In the first six months of office, we hired many new staff and more are on the way. Our goal is that every phone call and e-mail will be answered promptly so that you feel proud of your union’s responsiveness. Our current staff list is posted here.
One of our most important missions at Local 802 is helping musicians achieve the benefits of working with a union contract. This means empowering musicians to find their own voices and to stand up with their colleagues to win union campaigns with the professional assistance that we provide. We are pleased to welcome John Pietaro as our new director of organizing (see John’s intro column in this issue of Allegro). My administration’s first priority has been to keep an eye on our major venues, where all musicians deserve the protections of a union contract. Our next priority will be to do a comprehensive review of our strategic goals, including where musicians need us the most right now and where we can have the greatest impact leading to real victories. If you’re playing a nonunion gig where you’re not earning the pay and benefits you deserve, please reach out confidentially to the Local 802 Hotline.
We are currently helping the DCINY Orchestra negotiate its first contract. As everyone knows, achieving a first contract can be a big challenge, especially when the employer is fighting musicians tooth and nail. The DCINY administration shamefully replaced our professional musicians with a high school orchestra (and a couple of pianists) for its recent engagement of “Carmina Burana.” We responded with a forceful rally that included a live band, the inflatable rat, and a powerful turnout. At the rally, we welcomed AFM President Ray Hair, officials from AGMA and IATSE, and many reporters, which resulted in great press coverage. We also reached out to the high school band who had replaced us, who apologized for their actions, which had been done in ignorance. We will continue our fight for a fair contract, and you can stay updated on the musicians’ Web site.
We also continue to negotiate with the League for our successor Broadway agreement. These negotiations are obviously sensitive and there’s no news to publicly report at this time. We’ll keep you posted.
Other negotiations we’re involved in include casino musicians at ResortsWorld as well as club date musicians.
BLACK ORCHESTRAL NETWORK
We recently celebrated the launch of the Black Orchestral Network, which is led in part by Local 802 member Weston Sprott, who is introducing the organization in this issue of Allegro. I’d also like to share again the AFM’s recent statement of support: “The AFM supports the musicians of the Black Orchestral Network. We share their vision of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive orchestral community. We are committed to supporting the work of our symphonic musicians as they strive to make that vision a reality.” Local 802 agrees, and you can learn more at: https://www.blackorchestralnetwork.org/
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC
Musicians of the New York Philharmonic celebrated the recent news that their salaries and seniority and overscale payments will be restored to their pre-pandemic levels. When the pandemic shuttered NYC venues in 2020, musicians and management agreed to significant reductions in pay in order to allow the organization to withstand an unprecedented 18-month period of concert cancellations. Now the minimum base salary will return to 100 percent of the 2019-20 season scale. I personally am thrilled that the New York Philharmonic has honored its obligation to restore full compensation to the orchestra. The pandemic forced musicians to make extremely painful sacrifices, yet we never lost hope that live music would return. Now that our city is reopened and audiences have come back, we applaud the New York Philharmonic for supporting its musicians, who are the reason that New York City is the cultural capital of the world. This restoration will be effective as of September 21, 2022, rather than with the conclusion of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, on September 20, 2024. It was made possible by the Philharmonic’s improved financial position and its positive outlook for the coming seasons as it returns to a newly renovated David Geffen Hall in October. Associate Principal Trombone Colin Williams, who serves as chair of Orchestra Committee, said in a statement, “This is a momentous day for the New York Philharmonic. Not only will the musicians be made whole from the cuts of the last two years, but we can also look to the future with confident enthusiasm. Two years ago, the musicians of the Philharmonic made a significant sacrifice because of their determination to bring music and life to our community despite the challenges of COVID and being displaced from our hall. Our efforts, combined with the support of our steadfast Board and Staff, have laid the foundation for a new and brighter future. We musicians look ever forward to adding to the incredible tapestry that makes New York the most exciting place in the world.”
- In this issue of Allegro, you’ll see the Local 802 Executive Board’s statement on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade. I am personally horrified by this decision and pledge to do anything in my power to give help and support to our members who need it. (Read also the statements from the AFM and the AFL-CIO.)
- I congratulate the musicians of “A Strange Loop” and all of those who won a Tony this year; see complete list here.
- Local 802 was recently honored by the Stonewall Democratics of NYC, one of the premier LGBTQ organizations in the city. The club told us, “We are honoring Local 802 for all the work you have done to continue advancing our city forward during the pandemic. You helped to keep musicians thriving and moving forward as a global pandemic ravaged our city. Broadway is coming back and the musicians continue to call New York City home as a result of the tenacious work and leadership of Local 802.” Thanks to Recording Vice President Harvey Mars for representing us at the awards event.
Have a great summer and I’ll see you again in these pages in our September issue.