Recording Vice President's report

Volume 123, No. 7July, 2023

Harvey Mars, Esq.

During the past three months, there have been some major developments in my department that I would like to share with you in this month’s report. They fall within the three areas for which my office is responsible: 1) contract negotiations in the fields of single engagements, club dates and music education/teaching artists; 2) organizing; and 3) the Local 802 building.

I am extremely pleased to report that since the last membership meeting, we have completed negotiations for seven long-standing legacy collective bargaining agreements. In two of those agreements, we achieved landmark gains, which I will highlight below.


CLUB DATE AGREEMENT: Local 802 has successfully completed negotiations with club date employers and has achieved a memorandum of agreement that contains substantial wage increases and increases in mileage and transportation reimbursement rates. The agreement runs from April 15, 2023 through April 15, 2026 and contains wage increases that average over 4.5 percent for each of its three years. These are some of the largest wage increases that the club date bargaining unit has seen in over a decade, if not longer.

We were also able to achieve substantial increases in automobile mileage, transportation, and air travel rates. Since most of these reimbursement rates have not increased since the late 1990’s, it was a priority for the bargaining team to increase them. Mileage and transportation rates have almost doubled and in some cases tripled. A highly favorable lump sum air travel rate, which is meant to compensate musicians for time spent traveling by air, has been negotiated that will benefit musicians far greater than the cumbersome piecemeal rates in the expired agreement. Additionally, we have achieved a 50 percent reimbursement payment for all musicians in the event that congestion pricing is adopted by New York City, up to a $10 maximum. The prior agreement only provided a 50 percent reimbursement if the musician was entitled to receive a cartage payment. We insisted on the elimination of the cartage requirement to qualify for the payment. Finally, we have eliminated the discounted heath contribution rate and employers have agreed to pay a uniform per-service rate. This will enhance the solvency of the health fund.

The completion of this negotiation was extremely important because the rates negotiated here serve as the paradigm for our single engagement non-classical scale contract (G Contract).

NEW SCHOOL OF JAZZ AND CONTEMPORARY MUSIC: Local 802 engaged in a sympathy strike against the New School when the UAW-represented faculty walked off the job. After the UAW strike settled, the tremendous gains achieved by the UAW were not automatically transferable to the Local 802 bargaining unit. Local 802 was required to negotiate its own contract with its own terms.

Local 802 and the jazz faculty bargaining committee began negotiations in January 2023. Finding our leverage and positioning it to our members’ advantage was the key to successful negotiations. Local 802 had developed a better relationship with New School management over the years, and we relied upon that relationship to make bargaining a more streamlined process.

Our improved relationship was used to successfully accomplish our goals to achieve parity with the UAW represented faculty. To that end, after we completed negotiations on April 21, the New School’s lead negotiator wrote: “I thank you and your committee for the earnest and authentic work in conducting and concluding these negotiations in a fruitful, professional and collaborative manner.”

At the conclusion of the negotiations the jazz faulty achieved the following:

  • 24 percent raise in the first year of the contract for both classroom and private lessons teachers
  • 16 percent in additional wage increases over the life of the contract for both classroom and private lessons teachers.
  • 41 percent increase in wages from the current wage rate to the final year of the contract
  • $2,100 bonus for those who worked during the pandemic.
  • $300 live performance rate
  • Payment for online training
  • Administrative payment each semester for course preparation that starts at $400 and increases to $800 in the final year of the contract
  • Enhanced non-discrimination language

The result of this negotiation proves without a doubt that solidarity is truly a powerful force.

AMATUER NIGHT AT THE APOLLO: We achieved a three-year deal that included a retroactive 2 percent wage increase effective 2022 and then 3.5 percent increases effective in 2023, 2024 and 2025. Due to the roll up effect of the retroactive increase, the first-year wage increase is actually 5.5 percent. We also achieved a significant increase in music preparation rates and payments for on-line streaming. Finally, in the second year of the contract we achieved roughly a 20 percent increase in health insurance contributions for musicians who perform for an entire season.

JAZZ IN JULY SERIES AT THE 92nd STREET Y: We recently completed negotiations for this popular jazz series and achieved a 4 percent increase in the first year and 3.5 percent increases in the second and third year of a three-year agreement. We also achieved a 1.12 percent increase in the pension contribution rate and an update to the archival recording section.

CHILDREN’S ORCHESTRA SOCIETY: This organization is run by Yeoh Cheung Ma, Yo Yo Ma’s sister. It provides classical music instruction to children. We achieved a modest increase in wages and health benefit contribution rates as well as a 1 percent increase in pension contributions. This organization was devastated by the effects of a nor’easter and the bargaining unit was very happy to receive some increases that preserves their employment.

PERLA.ORG, LLC: This organization was founded by bassist Gene Perla. The agreement expired in November 2020 and was just recently renegotiated. Gene agreed to a three year deal that included a total wage increase package of 13.5 percent, a pension contribution rate of 17.985 percent. The new contract also contains a provision that provides for a $40 health benefit contribution rate. The previous contract did not include health benefit contributions.

REGINA VIOLIN: This organization was founded by violinist Regina Carter. The agreement expired in February 2021 and was also just recently renegotiated. Regina agreed to a three year deal that contained a total wage increase package of 12 percent, a pension contribution rate of 13 percent and a 33 percent increase in health benefit contribution rate from $30 to $42.

Local 802 also entered into a new contract with the Five Borough Band that has the same terms as the contract that the now-defunct Patriot Brass contract had, except that the Five Borough Band has more than doubled its health benefit contribution to $80 a service.


My department was able to secure several single engagement contracts for Barry Manilow’s recent Radio City Music Hall concert through the efforts of Pete Voccola and Tony Gorruso. Forty-two musicians were covered by these agreements. I am happy to say that, unlike Jon Batiste, we did not have to call any of Barry’s relatives to get this accomplished.

Protests against DCINY have continued. We recently had a very successful rally outside of Carnegie Hall on June 5 and several of our sister unions, including the WGA, AGMA and the UAW came out to support us. Mandy Patinkin also joined the demonstration, as well as the comedy troupe “Please Don’t Destroy.” We intend to keep the pressure mounted on DCINY until they finally agree to a fair contract with their musicians.

Harvey Mars with the comedy troupe “Please Don’t Destroy”

Mandy Patinkin speaks at the DCINY rally

Due to several written threats made by DCINY to their musicians, Local 802 had to file yet a third unfair labor practice charge against it with the National Labor Relations Board. However, off-the-record discussions have taken place and we are trying diligently to resume them.

The Executive Board has created an Organizing and Education Committee. Roughly a week ago, the committee had its first meeting and our discussion included organizing target selection and strategy.


The single most important development that I would like to report on is our plans to engage in a comprehensive renovation of our building and its various systems to modernize it and make the building more energy efficient. For instance, our HVAC system has exceeded its life expectancy. We had to complete emergency repairs to our AC system just so we could have air conditioning for the club room during our June 8, 2023 membership meeting. We now have a comprehensive plan and our newly-adopted bylaw amendment has created a building fund to provide necessary monies for the renovation project. Additionally, we entered into a contract with Charles Anders Hall to secure his services as a project manager for the renovation project. Charles has a wealth of experience in renovating buildings so that they provide maximum energy efficiency. We look forward to working with Charles as this project takes shape.

Last but certainly not least, we recently purchased a beautiful new Pearl drum set to accompany our new piano for the Local 802 Club Room! I think this will make the Club Room a very attractive rehearsal space. See photo below: