Local 802 is gaining ground

Recording Vice President's report

Volume 122, No. 10November, 2022

Harvey Mars

My report this month revolves around the issues I addressed during the recent Local 802 membership meeting. Though we failed to achieve a quorum, dozens of members attended the meeting, and it was engaging and informative. During the meeting, I addressed three areas where my department has been involved: organizing and new members, contracts and negotiations, and the Local 802 building.


It is vital for Local 802 to become actively involved in the flux of organizing activity that is occurring throughout the country. The time has never been better to gain new contracts. As many of you know, we hired John Pietaro as our new organizing director as well as Cheryl Brandon as our newest organizer. Both bring years of experience as labor advocates, representatives and organizers. They will help spearhead Local 802’s efforts to increase bargaining units and member density. We are in the process of identifying new organizing targets including jazz clubs, casinos, and freelance ensembles and employing the strategies I outlined in my report last month, “Phases of Organizing.”

Both John and Cheryl are in the field weekly, actively talking with musicians who are performing at the venues we believe are the best ones to get under contract. If you see them around town or in the club room while you are rehearsing, say hello! They are here to help improve your working conditions. You can reach both of them (and all of our organizers and reps) via

On a related note, Local 802’s membership numbers have grown since the pandemic, and we recently conducted our first new member meeting in over a year. Two sessions were held and a total of almost 100 members participated. An informational flier was presented to and reviewed with the new members, and questions were answered by Principal Staff Representative Todd Weeks, Organizing Director John Pietaro, Financial Vice President Karen Fisher and myself. A well-deserved thank you to all who participated.

Our new member orientation was a big success!


I am proud to report that Local 802 has achieved contracts with Jon Batiste and Ron Carter for their recent live performances at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Batiste also entered into an AFM recording contract and compensated musicians who were not re-engaged for his rescheduled performance. Mr. Batiste and Mr. Carter should be applauded for leading the way for other employers to act similarly.

Furthermore, Local 802 is actively engaged in achieving agreements with other prominent artists such as Josh Groban. We need your help to advance our efforts. Please contact Local 802 when you’re approached by anyone contracting for Mr. Groban or any other notable group or artist. Regardless of how well you may think they are compensating you without a union contract, you will remain vulnerable to arbitrary and substandard employment terms. Union contracts provide security that ensure employers will comply with their commitments as well as  remedies in the event that they do not. Contact us at

I am also encouraged by the progress the bargaining committee and Local 802 are making with respect to the DCINY negotiations. First-time contracts are always difficult to achieve. However, the musicians are slowly but surely achieving gains through bargaining. This is attributable to the committee’s dogged persistence and tenacity. Many gains were achieved as a direct result of our rally held at Carnegie Hall on June 6. We anticipate more progress as DCINY makes plans to resume utilizing a live orchestra. We are increasing the pace of negotiations to maximize the chance of our achieving an agreement before the beginning of the holiday season.

Musicians of the DCINY Orchestra demand respect!

I am also happy to report that Kaufman Center Teaching Artists settled on a contract that had the largest wage and health benefit contribution increases since the contract was first negotiated. The bargaining committee as well as Senior Business Rep Marisa Friedman were instrumental in achieving this contract, which was recently ratified.

Additionally, Midori and Friends also settled on a contract with the largest compensation increases in bargaining unit history. Through the efforts of the bargaining committee, we were able to achieve a five percent wage increase in the first year of the contract as well as increased rates for health insurance contributions.

Club date negotiations have recently commenced, and the committee is seeking substantial increases in compensation and travel time reimbursement. We would welcome new members to the committee. Both Hank Lane Music and Element Entertainment are spearheading negotiations on behalf of the single engagement club date employers performing within the Greater New York area. If any club date musicians are interested in participating in these negotiations, please contact Pete Voccola or John Pietaro.

Big Apple Circus is seeking a one-year extension and has agreed to make substantial increases to health benefit contributions as well as a commitment to a retroactive wage increase, if a wage increase is negotiated during the next bargaining cycle. I am happy to see that Big Apple Circus has planned a season using live music.  

The jazz faculty at the New School are coordinating with the other unions that have bargaining units employed at the school. The coalition held a highly successful Rally for Respect on Sept. 14. Unfortunately, the faculty represented by the ACT-UAW Local 7902 coalition  have reached a critical juncture in their negotiations and additional concerted activity may be necessary. Local 802 has not yet started bargaining with the New School and faculty members we represent are working without a successor contract.  We however have a set of proposals ready to submit.

Rally for Respect at the New School

Finally, we recently held a productive meeting with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. While their contract is not up for renegotiation yet, it was important for us to have a face-to-face talk with the band. We had the pleasure of listening to them while they rehearsed, and I was totally blown away by how great they sounded rehearsing one of Wynton Marsalis’ original compositions. It was worth the trip just to hear them!


The Local 802 building is now completely re-open; please check out our hours and staff list here. We offer the cheapest rehearsal rates in town and this is a perk for Local 802 members only! Here are our current rates and how to rent. We recently made some capital improvements to the building, including replacing our fire alarm system and we have commenced repairs to the facade of the building. All of these upgrades are making us think about how we can make our building more “green” and sustainable, including the possible installation of solar panels. For more details, please read Sara Cutler’s article in this issue of Allegro here.

Please know that I am thoroughly enjoying my new role as Local 802’s Recording Vice President. Please stop by my office on the third floor if you are ever in the building just to chat and meet my wonderful staff!