Big gains at Local 802 in organizing, negotiations and more…

Recording Vice President's report

Volume 124, No. 7July, 2024

Harvey S. Mars

There have been some significant developments in my department over the last several months, many of which I reported on at the June 5, 2024 membership meeting. I would like to use this opportunity to review these here for those members who could not make it to the meeting.


First and foremost, Local 802 has been able to achieve a collective bargaining agreement with the Second City comedy club, which just opened its doors in Brooklyn. This is a brand-new agreement that can be used as a template for musical theatre venues and nightclubs. With the assistance of AFM Local 10-208 (Chicago), which already has a collective bargaining agreement with Second City, we achieved voluntary recognition. Our voluntary recognition agreement contained some initial terms that applied while we engaged in good faith negotiations. We ultimately agreed on a two-year contract that will be in effect from January 1, 2024 through June 30, 2026. Minimum wages have been increased to $1,796.34, which includes a basic performance rate of $1549.14 and rehearsal rate of $30.90 per hour for eight hours of rehearsal. It also contains instrument maintenance of $30 weekly, vacation benefits of 6 percent, health benefits of $250 per week and pension at 14.385 percent. In the second year of the contract, the total wages increase to $1,796.34. We thank Local 10-208 for alerting us to Second City’s presence in New York and their assistance in achieving this agreement.


Along those lines, Local 802 has renewed negotiations with 54 Below, a popular after-hours nightclub where many of our Broadway musicians perform. This is the first formal negotiation we have had with this venue since the expiration of the initial agreement in 2015. I want to thank the committee members who were involved in the negotiation for their invaluable assistance in formulating and revising our proposals, which took place over several months: Allison Seidner, Larry Lelli, Justin Goldner, Matt Scharfglass and Matthew Jaimes. Music Director Dan Lipton was very helpful too. Our first day of negotiation went well and the employer appeared receptive to our proposals. I also should mention that our organizers and staff representatives have been visiting this venue regularly and meeting with musicians performing there. We consider this a very important venue because it is “Broadway-adjacent” and can, like the Second City agreement, serve as a catalyst for revitalizing our cabaret and club organizing efforts.


We achieved a new memorandum of understanding with Lincoln Center for its American Songbook series. The prior agreement expired in 2020, and basically is an “area standard” agreement that requires groups that perform in the series to adhere to the terms contained in our single engagement club date agreement. While we do not have a direct bargaining relationship with these groups, their agreements with Lincoln Center provide that all performers shall receive the wages, working conditions and benefits contained in Local 802’s single engagement club date agreement. Unfortunately, only one group so far has filed a single engagement agreement with Local 802. I have filed unfair labor practice complaints against the remaining groups with the New York Public Employment Relations Board to compel them to enter into a single engagement agreement with Local 802.


Peter Voccola and I re-commenced negotiations with the Argyle Theatre, a theatre located in Babylon, Long Island. Local 802 was first recognized at this theatre roughly six years ago. We submitted proposals and many were accepted at the table. Unfortunately, the employer refuses to raise wages and this may compel more aggressive bargaining.

On the other hand, we did achieve a progressive agreement with the John Engeman Theatre, another theatre situated in Long Island. Wages increased to $100 performance, up from $90. Rehearsal wages increased to $85 from $65. We also increased premium scales for music director, associate conductor and playing contractor. We greatly strengthened the substitute musician language. The employer during the course of negotiations unilaterally implemented a new requirement requiring musicians to attend 90 percent of the performances. We filed an unfair labor practice charge and ultimately the employer agreed to a 50 percent attendance requirement. Pension was increased to 7.2 percent from 6 percent. The agreement extends from January 25, 2024 through January 12, 2025.


I am very happy to report that DCINY has, for the most part, abided by its collective bargaining agreement and has employed a significant number of musicians since the inception of its agreement with Local 802. I want to give a shout-out to the orchestra committee, which has done a wonderful job learning the new contract and ensuring that the employer stays on the straight and narrow. They recently drafted a set of bylaws guiding their internal operations. I am very proud of this group of musicians who have demonstrated what the true power of this union is. They should serve as a model to every orchestra committee.


The Local 802 Senior Musicians Association (which runs the Senior Concert Orchestra) is active once again. The passing of both Gilda Glaser and Gino Sambucco were huge blows to this organization. However, other members have stepped in to keep the orchestra alive. (Thank you to Steve Shulman, Debbie Schmidt and the orchestra’s newly constituted board!) The next concert is scheduled for Carnegie Hall on Sept. 29 at 2pm. As always, tickets are available free at the box office for this special annual performance. Performing as a soloist will be international student William Lee, winner of the Waldo Mayo violin competition, which recently took place at Local 802. The program will include Max Bruch’s Concerto for Violin No. 1; the L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2 by Georges Bizet; and the Cayuga Overture by Seth Grosshandler.


Finally, as noted in President Cutler’s report this month, Local 802 has entered into new contracts with the Entertainment Community Fund for both the administration of Local 802 Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund and ECF’s member assistance program. When the services are ready to be rolled out, we will provide more information. For now, members can apply for funding (or make donations) at

I hope that everyone has an enjoyable and productive summer. See you in September!