Jazz Foundation returns to Local 802 (under a new union contract!)

Recording Vice President's report

Volume 123, No. 8September, 2023

Harvey Mars, Esq.

For decades, it was common to hear live jazz emanating from the Local 802 Club Room on most Monday nights. These live jazz events were sponsored by the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA), a nonprofit organization whose primary mission is to provide work opportunities and financial assistance to jazz musicians. Local 802 and the JFA had a longstanding relationship that extended for well over 20 years. The JFA, in fact, had rented office space on the sixth floor of our building. One key feature of the Monday night performances is that they were covered by a Local 802 agreement. This agreement guaranteed compensation to featured performers. Unfortunately, like with many live performances throughout the country, the pandemic and the temporary closure of the Local 802 building put an end to our relationship with the JFA. In 2019, the JFA ultimately located another venue for its performances.

Harvey Mars at a recent Monday night jam session

I am now extremely proud to report that Local 802 has revived its relationship with the JFA after a four-year hiatus. Several months ago, I contacted JFA Executive Director Joe Petrucelli and entered into negotiations with the JFA to bring back the Monday night jam session. After several discussions, the JFA agreed to enter into a new collective bargaining agreement with Local 802. This agreement, which extends for three years, now for the first time contains health benefit contributions for side musicians. Wages have been increased by over 5 percent in the first year and 2.5 percent in the second year. Pension contributions have been increased by 1 percent, and guest artist fees were increased by over 20 percent.

Performances will be held on the third Monday of every month, including September 18, October 16, November 20 and December 18. The first performance on August 21 featured Kim Clarke on bass and Kiyoko Layne on piano and Lucianna Padmore on drums. In addition to the JFA jazz nights, Local 802 plans to continue its monthly jazz nights as well. Everyone is welcome to attend these performances, and to bring their instruments too when there are open jam sessions! We are so happy to bring the Monday night jam back to Local 802. We hope you can attend on some of these dates. All events (both the Jazz Foundation jam sessions and the separate 802 Jazz Night series) are posted at .


In addition to completing negotiations with the JFA, Local 802 has also recently concluded negotiations for a one-year successor agreement with the Big Apple Circus. Wages for this bargaining unit will increase 4 percent from $149.25 per show to $155.22 per show, and there is also a pre-show payment for the first time, as well as premiums for being on-stage (outside the bandstand), in costume, choreography, body paint, and having speaking lines. There are now also provisions for an associate conductor, assistant conductor, and in-house contractor. Finally, we added payment for cancellations and expanded holiday pay. There will also now be a secondary roster, a labor-management committee, and health and safety language regarding temperature and lockers/dressing rooms. Finally, we were able to maintain the minimum band size. Local 802 Senior Business Rep Marisa Friedman did a masterful job interfacing with the bargaining committee and management to bring this negotiation to a very successful conclusion.

The conclusion of this negotiation is noteworthy since this is a bargaining agreement that was almost lost. The circus filed for bankruptcy protection in 2016 after years of financial losses due to fallout from the 2008-9 Great Recession and was bought out by Compass Partners/Big Top Works in 2017. It was repurchased in 2021 with the help of famed aerialist and high-wire artist Nik Wallenda (of the Flying Wallendas). They did not perform in 2020 because of the pandemic. It was touch-and-go whether the new circus would continue after the 2018 season and the pandemic, but the circus was able to break even last year. In August of 2023, the circus announced a partnership with Circus Roncalli, one of Germany’s and Europe’s best-known circuses, which is known for using holographic animals in their shows rather than live ones. We are very grateful that the Big Apple Circus is continuing to use live music and wish them a very successful season.


With respect to organizing, Local 802 was recently contacted by management of The Second City, a Chicago based comedy club that utilizes live music, regarding their intention to open a club in Brooklyn. The Second City is in fact in the process of renovating a Brooklyn theatre and has agreed to voluntarily recognize Local 802 as the bargaining representative of the musicians they will employ in Local 802’s jurisdiction. Bargaining has already commenced, and it is not anticipated that negotiations will be difficult, since The Second City already has a collective bargaining agreement with AFM Local 10-206 (Chicago). We are pleased that The Second City management has agreed to voluntarily enter into negotiations with Local 802.


Local 802 has presented evidence to the National Labor Relations Board with respect to a third unfair labor practice charge it has filed against DCINY, which alleges that DCINY has refused to continue to bargain in good faith. We believe that as a result of this charge the NLRB will compel DCINY to resume negotiations. In anticipation of the resumption of bargaining, the orchestra’s bargaining committee has worked tirelessly to prepare a new set of proposals that closely align with off the record discussions that took place earlier this year. Undoubtedly, there will be more to report on this negotiation in the weeks that follow.


The Local 802 building renovation project is moving forward, and the supervisors of each department have received a questionnaire from the architect we have retained so that they may propose modifications they would desire for their department. For my department, I would like to see staff have more individual space and privacy. This is an exciting project, and I am very much looking forward to a remodeled, renovated, energy efficient building that members and staff will be proud to come to.


Finally, a member recently donated a Hammond organ to the club room (see photo above). It’s a wonderful instrument that is in near perfect condition that we hope will get a lot of use. For the full story on how we acquired this instrument please, see John Pietaro’s organizing column in this issue.


As Allegro went to press, Local 802 had participated in the National Day of Solidarity to support actors and writers on strike for a fair contract. All three Local 802 officers attended, and music was provided by Colin Williams and the New York Philharmonic Brass Quintet: