Local 802 marches forward
Volume 122, No. 9October, 2022
It’s been a busy fall season at Local 802. The Broadway agreement and the New York City Opera agreement were both approved by an overwhelming majority of musicians who participated in the ratification. I want to personally thank the rank-and-file committee members who put in so much effort and work representing the best interests of the musicians who elected them. With their help, we were able to bargain terms that will add to the stability of both groups as NYC continues its recovery from the pandemic.
Speaking of Broadway, we recently learned the sad news that “Phantom of the Opera” will close in February 2023, after 35 years on Broadway. This the end of an era: the musical has played more than 13,500 performances to 19 million people at the Majestic. So many of my close friends have worked on that show, and it will be a real loss to our audiences and our community as we say goodbye. We’ll commemorate the closing of this groundbreaking musical in a future issue of Allegro.
Let me end this section with some good news related to Broadway. Thanks to the hard work of Local 802 staff, we confirmed that musicians performing in both NYC’s “Broadway in the Boros” and the Broadway League’s “Curtain Up” will be covered by a union contract. It’s great that the public gets free music, and it’s even better that musicians will be treated with respect by earning Local 802 union wages and benefits.
GIGS AT MAJOR VENUES: A TALE OF TWO GIGS
I want to start this section with a shout-out to Local 802 member Jon Batiste, who covered his musicians with a union contract for the premiere of his “American Symphony” at Carnegie Hall in late September. Jon, you did the right thing and we thank you! On the other hand, Local 802 recently issued a Do Not Work order for the IL VOLO concert on Sept. 27 at Radio City Music Hall. We believe that this show was contracted under the supervision of Steve Trudell, who appears on the AFM International Unfair List. We also believe that contractors for this gig may have included “Jersey Gina” Corso and others. Under Local 802’s bylaws (Article 5, Section 6, Paragraph D), members can be reprimanded, fined or expelled for performing for an unfair employer. This was a nonunion date with no contract protections for fair wages, health and pension contributions, job security, recording payments, streaming payments, or other benefits that come with union contracts. There is a larger question here. Any time nonunion work is performed for major artists in major venues, it compromises the work standards and compensation that professional musicians deserve. It hurts everyone, including those who perform the work. Those who played on this job will not earn any pension or health contributions, not to mention union perks like doubling, cartage, parking or overtime pay for encores. Even worse, those who work on jobs like this earn NO union royalties or payments if the concert is released as a recording or on a TV show or movie or if it’s streamed. Put simply, if you play nonunion jobs like this, you have no enforceable union contract to protect your rights. This is unconscionable, especially when performing for a trio like IL VOLO, whose net worth is rumored to be as high as $19 million. 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. Let’s stop undermining the employment standards that professional musicians have worked years to achieve. If you’re contacted to participate in high-profile nonunion gigs like this, please send a confidential e-mail to Local 802 Organizing Director John Pietaro or contact the Local 802 Hotline anonymously. For more, please read this article that we previously published in Allegro: “When does our union issue a do not work order?”
The midterm elections are fast approaching and they’ve never seemed more important. While most Local 802 members live in reliably blue districts, there are also some competitive races that are crucial to making sure that Democrats maintain their majority in Congress, which also means maintaining some semblance of workers’ rights, abortion rights and immigrant rights. Please read Martha Hyde’s article in this issue in which she reports on how the New York State AFL-CIO nominating process works. The election is Tuesday, November 8 and all the info is at https://www.elections.ny.gov/. I also encourage you to check out the politics page of the New York State AFL-CIO, where you can also learn how to volunteer in this election.
RALLY FOR RESPECT
Local 802 jazz instructors and other unionized workers at the New School recently marched for respect…with live music! Please read the story by our jazz instructor stewards here.
TWO VENUES GET UPDATES
I recently attended the final “tuning sessions” at the newly renovated David Geffen Hall, home of the New York Philharmonic. Professional acousticians and orchestra staff and musicians listened to the acoustics in the new hall prior to the official opening on Sept. 17. It was a fascinating process and I can tell you that the new hall has transformed the sound of the orchestra. I’m looking forward to attending as many concerts in the fall season as I can. As Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill put it: “I think everyone is going to be pleasantly surprised and excited about the hall. I can’t wait to open the season.”
Also, I was proud to attend the dedication and unveiling ceremony of the James Earl Jones theatre (formerly the Cort) on 138 West 48th Street. It’s a beautiful restoration that retains the best of the old design, and of course we applaud the fact that Mr. Jones is being honored in such a profound way. Here is a video of the event provided by the Broadway League. For more, see this story in Allegro.
HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH
We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Allegro interviewed some of our members of Latnix heritage, which you can read here. I’d like to share the words of French hornist Audrey Flores, who said, “A century ago, my great-grandmother left her home in Mexico, along with all of her possessions, to strive for a better and safer life in Texas. The last three generations of my family have faced obstacles that I have never known. My Hispanic heritage means that no matter how tired I am, how hard I have to work, or when it seems like the work is so slow that I might never work again, I owe it to those women to keep going. If I can keep our journey alive, maybe I can inspire other young Hispanic musicians to believe that anything is possible, no matter how impossible it seems.”
MUSIC FOR THE SOUL
Local 802 musicians will again be providing live music under a union contract for hospital workers and their patients starting this month through next year. This is part of our highly successful “Music for the Soul” program, a partnership between Local 802, NYC Health + Hospitals, and the Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment. For more information about this program, contact our jazz rep Todd Weeks at email@example.com.
WE’RE ON TIK TOK!
Our communications director Mikael Elsila recently set up Local 802’s TikTok channel and we hope to add more videos soon. If you have any TikToks to contribute or recommend, feel free to e-mail Mikael at Allegro@Local802afm.org. Also, please check out Local 802’s other social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
NEW MEMBER DISCOUNT
If you have any friends or colleagues who aren’t members of Local 802 yet, please share this news. New members of Local 802 can join the union between Oct. 1, 2022 and Dec. 31, 2022 and pay NO INITIATION FEE. There’s never been a better time to join your colleagues and be a part of one of the largest and most powerful musicians’ unions in the world.
JOB POSTINGS AT LOCAL 802
I’m pleased to report that Local 802 is almost completely re-staffed. We still have an opening for a concert report and a few other positions, which you can find here: https://unionjobs.com (use the search box to search for “Local 802”)
Not to toot my own horn, but I was proud to be honored as one of the top labor leaders in NYC as part of City & State’s NYC Labor Power 100. The honor roll features the labor leaders, city officials, immigrant advocates and other allies who are building momentum as they stand up for workers of all kinds. This is an honor for Local 802 as much as it is for me, since it shows our power and influence to work for musicians in NYC and beyond. Here’s the full list of labor leaders.
MEMBERSHIP MEETING: IN PERSON
The next Local 802 membership meeting will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. IN PERSON at Local 802. This is the first time that we’ve met in person since the pandemic! This is an in person meeting only; there is NO virtual, Zoom, hybrid or livestream option. Masks and vaccination required to enter the Local 802 building. The agenda of the meeting will include officers’ reports, a bylaw resolution, and a discussion about the format of future membership meetings. Please note: 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. You must be an active member of Local 802 to attend. It will help in our planning if you RSVP for this meeting; please click here to RSVP now.
It’s hard to believe that 21 years have passed since 9/11. Local 802 member and bagpiper Cliff Roberts (pictured above) participated in the annual “Calling of the Names” ceremony at St. Paul’s Chapel to remember those who lost their lives during recovery efforts.