Keeping an eye on the future

President's report

Volume 122, No. 10November, 2022

Tino Gagliardi

The first and most important thing I need to say this month is simply this: VOTE ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8! That is the date of the midterm elections and even though many of us vote in historically blue districts in historically blue states like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the polls are tightening and it’s virtually important that we all vote. (If you vote in Pennsylvania, our closest swing state, your vote is especially crucial — please do everything you can to volunteer and get out the vote.) There is a strong sense of dread in the air as we contemplate the real possibility of losing Congress, which would mean a stalling of President Biden’s pro-labor and pro-arts agenda and a step backwards for the rights of women and all working people. For help with voting, start at or e-mail our Chief of Staff Dan Point at . (See also Dan’s piece in this issue of Allegro.)


We lost a real icon of our business on Oct. 24. Goodbye, Red Press. You will be sorely missed and irreplaceable. I love you my brother. Your respect and care for all the musicians you represented on the gig was second to none and a model for all to aspire to. You always knew the right thing to do and I will always appreciate that. We need more like you. Please read more about Red’s life here. We’ll publish additional tributes next month.


Local 802 has been putting energy and resources into making sure that gigs in our jurisdiction pay the wages and benefits that musicians deserve Our focus is on classic, grassroots union organizing, and I’m proud that my fellow officer Harvey Mars has laid out the Organizing Department’s plan in such a succinct and powerful way. For those who haven’t read it yet, I urge you to read Harvey’s article called “Phases of Organizing.” Harvey also neatly summarizes how we can narrow our organizing targets. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Nonunion gigs that take place in major venues (such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and others)
  • Nonunion gigs that are headlined by major artists (including multi-millionaires who can afford to pay union!)
  • Nonunion ensembles with a defined bargaining unit (i.e. ensembles that have an established hiring list)
  • Nonunion gigs that are regular, seasonal or repeat performances
  • Any nonunion recording sessions, including livestreaming

As always, if you are playing a job that doesn’t pay the wages and benefits that you deserve, please contact our Organizing Department or Local 802 Hotline. We will respect your confidence and keep you anonymous.


Local 802 has achieved recent agreements covering musicians with the following employers or venues:

  • Off Broadway production of “Trevor”
  • Rehearsal pianists at the American Ballet Theatre
  • A joint settlement over a production called “Row” with the Williamstown Theatre Festival, AFM Local 171 (Springfield, Massachusetts) and Local 802


As many of you know by now, some of our most prominent venues and orchestras recently dropped their mask requirements, including the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, the New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, Film at Lincoln Center, Juilliard, and the David H. Koch Theatre. (The Mitzi E. Newhouse and Claire Tow theatres will maintain their mandates.) Some may feel this is appropriate and will bring in more audiences. Some would even like to go farther and drop the mask and testing requirement for backstage staff. Others may feel that all of this increases the danger of spreading illness. No matter my personal opinion of this, Local 802 is required to be consulted about major changes like this, especially those changes that affect our members’ health and safety. We’re talking to our committees and will keep you posted.


At our recent membership meeting, we discussed the possibility of future membership meetings having a Zoom option. As most of you know, Local 802’s meetings were on Zoom during the pandemic. However, as of now, the AFM’s policy does not allow electronic or hybrid membership meetings unless Local 802 modifies its bylaws to approve it. The next opportunity to change our bylaws is at our February 2023 membership meeting. The Local 802 Executive Board is working on crafting a new bylaw amendment to submit before that meeting. Until such an amendment is ratified, all membership meetings will be in person only.


As many of you know by now, a concert at Merkin Hall on Friday, October 21, 2022 by the “Ureuk Symphony Orchestra” was apparently designed to support the state of North Korea. The conductor was Christopher Jonnmoo Lee (a/k/a Ri Jun Mu) and the soloist was listed as Hana Kim (clarinet). The apparent purpose of the concert was to photograph American audiences and American musicians enthusiastically playing and hearing North Korean military music. The concert started with traditional European orchestral music — Dvorak and Weber in this case — and then went into “other Korean orchestral music.” The group may have been composed of music students as well as local freelancers. The Wall Street Journal, NK News and the Human Rights Foundation have reported on these concerts in the past and exposed their connection to the North Korean state. To add insult to injury, this nonunion gig apparently paid a total of $170 for the concert plus six hours of rehearsals — and of course there were no union benefits or protections. Therefore, in addition to supporting the government of North Korea, this gig paid far below area standards for professional musicians in NYC. If you have any additional information about future gigs like this, or if you were asked to play it, please contact the Local 802 Hotline. All calls are confidential.


I recently submitted testimony to protest a big 34 percent fare increase by the New York Taxi and Limo Commission. This would adversely affect all New Yorkers, but especially our members who rely on taxis and car services to get to gigs with their instruments. Download a PDF of my testimony here.


The Pegasus Orchestra is paying musicians below NYC area standards. Don’t get cheated! When you play for the Pegasus Orchestra, you’re missing out on professional wages for concerts and rehearsals. You also deserve paid soundchecks, doubling payments, principal pay, parking, cartage, streaming, recording payments, a grievance procedure to protect your rights, and more. The orchestra made its Lincoln Center debut on Oct. 21. If you’ve been contacted to perform with the Pegasus Orchestra, please reach out to the Local 802 Organizing Department.

New York State Attorney General Tish James and Local 802 President Tino Gaglardi at a recent fundraiser where Local 802 members performed (via Local 802’s political action fund Tempo 802)