On January 8, 1996, there was a huge blizzard in New York City. I remember looking outside my window at Waterside Plaza where I was living at the time and seeing people cross-country ski on the FDR Drive. It was also my first day working as counsel to Local 802. I got the job because Local 802’s longtime counsel Lenny Leibowitz had just broken up with his partners and he needed an associate attorney to assist him. Lenny’s wife had been my professor at Cornell University in the Industrial Labor Relations program, where I had earned a master’s degree. I had passed along my resume to her in hopes that Lenny would hire me. I was working for the general counsel of the international longshoremen’s union at the time but wanted to work with a client for which I had a true affinity. Local 802 was a perfect fit for me because I had been a member for a while and had studied trombone performance at Oberlin. When I received the call from Lenny asking for my help, I was ecstatic. Working with Local 802 was my dream job — and my dream had just come true.
Since that day there have been gallons and gallons of water under the Local 802 bridge. I ended up working closely with all of the presidents at Local 802 over the past two decades: Bill Moriarty, David Lennon, Mary Landolfi, Tino Gagliardi and Adam Krauthamer. I developed close relationships with many union members and union staff. I weathered many tragedies and triumphs alike. In working with each of these administrations — even those diametrically opposed to one another — I learned that union representation is a higher calling than just propagating ideology and politics. Though at times I may have fallen short of my goals, I always focused on the needs and best interests of the membership. Nonetheless, there were constraints working as counsel. While I pursued the legal interests of the union and its musicians, I had no role in formulation and implementation of policy. That previous chapter has now come to an end — and a new chapter is beginning. As of January 1, 2022, I leave my role as counsel of Local 802 and assume a new leadership role as Recording Vice President. I am now liberated and free to take a more prominent role in this union.
While I am a lawyer and union advocate by profession, I truly believe that Local 802 should be run by musicians. To that end, I spent the last five years increasing my training and skills as a trombonist. I first earned an artist diploma and will earn a master of music in trombone performance in May. I intend to continue my lifelong music education even after I take office at Local 802.
I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank all the members who have put their faith and trust in my ability to transition to this new role. I will not let you down. My door will be open to all musicians and I will serve you with competence, alacrity and respect.
I made my agenda clear during my campaign for office. I intend to focus on expanding the scope of Local 802’s jurisdiction and membership by organizing new collective bargaining units and successfully finishing negotiations with new bargaining units we previously organized such as DCINY. I intend to seek approval to bring back more staff to meet this goal. I will also gear up club date negotiations that will be commencing soon and will meet with bargaining unit members, especially those who reached out to me during the campaign. I will work to fortify the infrastructure of Local 802 so that it will continue to meet the challenges presented to our membership for years to come. I will advocate for adequate safety protocols and protection so that disruptive show closings will become a thing of the past.
These goals, while modest in number, are not simple ones to achieve. It will take a lot of hard work, effort and coordination among the leadership of Local 802 to bring them to fruition. But I know we can achieve whatever we set our minds to.
Once again, THANK YOU for all your support. I am just as thrilled to begin my new role of Recording Vice President as I was years ago when I was first hired as Local 802 counsel. I’ll keep you posted on our progress as our administration sets out on a new course. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!
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