Well, we finally won one. Local 802’s denial of special situation status for the musical Saturday Night Fever was upheld by the contractually mandated hearing panel’s decision, rendered after arguments were heard on Sept. 16. The panel was unanimous in the denial and in recommending that playing musicians be engaged.
In a contemptuous response to this decision, the producer, Manny Kladitis/Niko Associates, has now engaged seven additional keyboard players (five of whom were also listed as vocalists). When added to the three already existing players, this makes a total of ten keyboard players. Ten!
No additional music prep work has been reported to Local 802 so, as yet, these seven “musicians” have no music to perform. Actors’ Equity, which has always had jurisdiction with regard to vocalists, has informed us they will claim these cast members. We will agree with Equity.
A letter has been sent to the producer stating, in part: “Local 802 has. . . received hiring slips for seven additional individuals, presumably hired as members of the Saturday Night Fever orchestra. The hiring slips indicate that the seven individuals have been hired to play keyboards 4 through 10. Additionally, five of the seven are listed as vocalists. We are aware of no changes in the show’s orchestrations, or the addition of seven piano parts. These individuals have clearly not been hired as keyboard players in this show. There are no piano 4-10 parts. . .
“[I]n regard to the five individuals described as vocalists. Vocalists, no matter where they perform – on stage, off-stage or even in the orchestra pit – are members of the cast. They have separate jobs as cast members and are separately employed under the League’s agreement with Actors’ Equity Association. They are not part of the complement of musicians that comprise the orchestra. For you to attempt to fulfill your obligation to hire 24 musicians by suggesting that five to seven members of the cast are now suddenly orchestra members is the crudest of subterfuges. We remind you again that you are required to hire a full complement of 24 musicians under the terms of our collective bargaining agreement.”
That’s where things stood when I wrote this so there’s nothing more to say – except that Kladitis’ action demonstrates a blatant disdain for musicians and for the League-Local 802 contract, as well as an utter disregard for the League-Local 802 relationship. I suppose that new lows in labor relations can always be reached, but it’s difficult to imagine after this.
AFM HEALTH & WELFARE TASK FORCE
The first meeting of the AFM Task Force on Health Coverage took place in Montreal on Sept. 19-21. The meeting represented an encouraging beginning in our effort to address this intractable problem. Our most important discovery was that we did not possess sufficient information to make educated decisions.
To fill this void we are mailing questionnaires to a select group of steady and freelance musicians and to many of the largest locals, seeking information about the incidence of insurance coverage or non-coverage among members, and about the potential for usage of a new system, should we succeed in putting one in place.
If you receive a questionnaire please take it seriously, give it some thought, and answer fully. We will rely on this information.
Task force members include AFM Secretary-Treasurer Tom Lee, Local 9-535 President Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherpnin, Local 10-208 President Ed Ward, Local 47 President Hal Espinosa, Local 65-699 Secretary Bob McGrew, Local 257 Secretary Randy Ford and Local 802 Supervisor of Contract Administration and Field Services Jim Hannen. Bill Dennison was there to help ease us through the difficult spots, and I served as Chair.
VOTE “NO” ON CITY CHARTER CHANGES
As you read in last month’s Allegro, the Nov. 2 special election is of unusual importance to all New York City residents. Changes in city governance in a variety of areas are being recommended.
While no one would argue that New York City has achieved perfection in its governmental structure, change – at this time in the city’s history – should be subjected to well-considered, rational debate and discussion, with as much involvement by the people of the city as possible. It should not be hurried through for obvious reasons of power politics, as is true of this measure.
The Mayor’s unwarranted attempts to increase the power of his office at the expense of the City Council, the Comptroller and the democratic process need to be voted down. Vote “No” on the City Charter revisions.
Finally, we at the local have begun a process of long term strategic planning in an effort to anticipate trends in our industry and changing work patterns among members and musicians in general. Nothing is anticipated to change overnight – but the ever-rippling-echoing effects of technological change are a constant in our world and we must try to be prepared. So if any 802 supervisors ask you strange questions, this is probably the reason.