After three months in office, the new Local 802 administration is getting closer to resolving some core problems that have been preventing us from operating at full capacity. Please understand that getting Local 802 back up to speed has been my biggest priority, but it hasn’t happened as quickly as I’d like. The main issue has been with Local 802’s computer database. As you know by now, our database company has failed us and we are reverting to our previous company. (One example of our company’s failure is that it has not been able to produce an online membership directory for us, even after all this time. That’s just one example of many.) The changeover should be done by the end of March, after which you should see significant increases in efficiency. Making this switch was one of the most important decisions of the new administration and it is the key to everything else. For more, please read this article by our Communications Subcommittee.
As far as re-opening the Local 802 building, we plan to do so in stages. The first stage will be re-opening the club room for rehearsals and meetings. We hope to have an announcement about that very soon. The second stage will be re-opening the entire building for members, which will come later. Our building committee is working very hard to make sure that as we re-open, we have all proper safety protocols in place. (The committee is being led by Recording Vice President Harvey Mars and also includes Executive Board members Debbie Assael, Sara Cutler and Martha Hyde.)
I had my first meeting with the Broadway Negotiation Committee: Negotiation Committee Chair Jan Mullen, Theatre Committee Chair Justin Vance, Debbie Assael, Alden Banta, Bud Burridge, Audrey Flores, Sheryl Henze, Rob Jost, Steve Lyon, Josh Samuels, Allison Seidner, Caitlin Warbelow and Local 802 Principal Business Rep Theresa Couture. Our Broadway contract expires this spring and we are starting to put together our bargaining plan. One thing is for certain: we won’t tolerate pay cuts or givebacks, especially if the Broadway producers are going to receive taxpayer-funded pandemic aid like they did last year. We also need more consistent Covid standards across all theatres. Related to this is that we’ve been after the Broadway theatres for years to improve their ventilation systems. This is something that we may need to address with the city, because it may be the only way to force theatre owners to upgrade their systems.
- Local 802 recently held a negotiating meeting with the management of Distinguished Concerts International New York. Recording Vice President Harvey Mars represented the union. Management had refused to schedule negotiations with the union for many months. This stalemate was finally broken after Local 802 won an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the company. At the negotiation session, management introduced a new proposal that would allow musicians to be removed from the current hiring list. We also learned that management has no plans to hire a live orchestra at any of its concerts this spring and that in fact they are replacing the orchestra with piano and organ. Needless to say, all of this is discouraging. Local 802 may be reaching out to the membership to support the musicians as negotiations continue. We’ll keep you posted. The musicians gave an excellent report on the negotiations on their Facebook page.
- I recently had a conversation with Lincoln Center Theatre regarding the initiation of negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement and development of safety protocols.
- We are about to begin negotiating with City Center Encores.
In our political efforts, we are working with the State AFL-CIO to make sure we have a strong voice in the upcoming New York State budget. Our main demands are: protecting labor standards anytime our arts employers get tax breaks (such as Broadway producers); keeping the COBRA health care subsidy; and strengthening the post-production tax breaks to encourage more recording work in New York. We also recently learned that the budget includes three new casino proposals. We’re working with some of our elected officials to make sure that any new casinos in New York pay fair wages and benefits to our musicians. We’re also looking at endorsements for this important election year. We made an early endorsement of Senator Chuck Schumer and I made a statement that said, “Senator Schumer fights for the rights of musicians and all working people — and he delivers on his promises. His track record speaks for itself. He delivered the American Rescue Plan, which saved our pension. He delivered health care in the form of a 100 percent COBRA subsidy. He delivered Pandemic Unemployment Insurance, which saved our musicians’ livelihoods during the worst of the pandemic. He delivered stimulus checks to keep our households running. He delivered vaccine availability, which is the key to bringing our audiences back. I can’t think of a better friend to our union. We are honored to endorse Senator Schumer and look forward to getting our members out to the polls to vote.”
As always, you can reach me anytime by sending an e-mail to Tgagliardi@Local802afm.org.