As spring turns into summer, let me give an update of Local 802 news and events. We continue to keep our focus on the musicians of the Metropolitan Opera as negotiations promise to be a challenge. At the final concert of their season, Met musicians took to the street in front of Carnegie Hall to pass out flyers to audience members and the public. (See photo below.) We and the musicians decided that a polite, non-confrontational message to the public was the most appropriate action at this time. At the same time, musicians gathered their strength in case talks break down, by unanimously authorizing a strike, if necessary. The vote simply gives musicians the legal option to strike, should management’s intransigence warrant such an action. Clarinetist Jessica Phillips Rieske, chair of the negotiating committee, said, “We remain hopeful that the negotiations will have a positive outcome. The Grammy Award-winning Met Orchestra is not only one of the truly great orchestras in the world, but a beloved New York City cultural icon. To maintain this level of quality, the Metropolitan Opera must compensate its musicians at a standard that allows this ensemble to continue to attract and retain world-class talent.”
We will continue to negotiate in good faith and we are optimistic that an agreement can be reached that will not deny the opera audience of New York City and the Metropolitan Opera’s international audience access to the acclaimed artistry of the hardest-working orchestra in the world. During the summer, we’ll continue to negotiate with Met management over the musicians’ contract and hopefully we’ll be able to report progress by the time the Met begins its new season in the fall. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to visit the musicians’ web site at www.METOrchestraMusicians.org. In this issue, we are pleased to feature a very interesting story about the Met’s librarians. Check it out on page 18.
Finally, we wish to convey our sincere condolences to Met Opera general manager Peter Gelb and his family on the death of his father Arthur Gelb, who changed New York City and the nation for the better, not only as a legendary newspaper editor but as a great champion of the arts. We respectfully honor his legacy, and wish his family comfort in this time of loss.
I recently attended a regional conference of AFM locals in the Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and D.C. areas (Penn/Del/Mar). As I have written before, a resolution was presented to the delegates at the 99th AFM convention to consolidate the various state conferences into a larger regional structure of conferences. The resolution was deferred to the IEB for determination, so I have been working hard to include as many local union leaders in the northeast as possible to help find a way to bring the concept to fruition. I am happy to report that at this time, the idea of a conference serving the northeast from D.C. to Maine has been largely accepted as a positive direction for the AFM. At the Penn/Del/Mar conference, the idea was met with enthusiasm. We talked about how such a conference could benefit the participating delegates. The larger conference would bring much-needed officer training, a broader opportunity for sharing information among locals, and various speakers who could bring analysis and insight to our ever-changing industry. Another advantage of a larger conference would be fewer conferences overall, which would efficiently and logistically enable the AFM to better represent itself with complete staff reports from Symphonic Services, Electronic Media Services, Freelance Services and Organizing. I am hopeful that we can accomplish this transition in 2015 with an inaugural Northeast Conference of Musicians right here in New York City, hosted by Local 802.
- We will finally begin negotiating with the New York Philharmonic over substitute and extra musicians. With the busy schedule of the orchestra and the local, getting a date to sit down has proven to be difficult. I expect the talks to be respectful and cooperative, and I am confident a fair deal will be reached shortly.
- I recently participated with the AFM with negotiations over the AFM’s Integrated Media Agreement (IMA) for symphonic, opera and ballet orchestras. This special contract covers scales and benefits when orchestras present music on the web and in other digital media for the promotion of the various organizations. It also covers sound recordings produced by the orchestras. The orchestra associations are being represented by the newly formed Electronic Media Association. This is a trade association of employers much like the Broadway League, which represents the employers of musicians in theatre. The initial talks were quite contentious but as we delved deeper into the proposals from management, we got a better understanding of the needs of the various companies and the opportunities already available to them. A big problem that we are encountering is the insistence that the orchestras be allowed to record with commercial artists such as Mariah Carey or James Taylor using the IMA instead of the AFM Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA). Our position is that the recordings made utilizing the IMA must be recordings where the orchestra is the featured artist and not a way for outside commercial entities to avoid using the SRLA.
- The AFM continues to negotiate with the advertising industry for a successor agreement to the Commercial Announcement Agreement (the jingles contract). Industry has proposed a total revamping of the structure of the jingles agreement to mirror what is currently contained in the agreement the industry has with SAG-AFTRA. We are analyzing the proposal from an economic standpoint and we will be meeting again in June.
- Local 802 recently achieved a renewal agreement with the Roundabout Theatre Company.
- We are still negotiating with the cabaret venue known as 54 Below, but the venue is filing single project limited pressing agreements with Local 802 for its recordings under the label Broadway Records. We are very close to getting a deal and I am hopeful that we will be able to put ink to paper in the coming weeks.
- Local 802 has concluded negotiations with the Apollo Theatre for the live performances of Amateur Night at the Apollo as well as terms and conditions for the use of electronic media by the company. I would like to thank Recording Vice President John O’Connor for leading the live performance component of the talks. I also thank Pat Varriale, the AFM’s assistant director of electronic media, for his help in negotiating a fair deal for the musicians for the recording component of the agreement.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
- We have two great interviews in this issue: our cover story on trombonist Urbie Green, and saxophonist Bobby Porcelli. Local 802 will be hosting a tribute to Urbie on Wednesday, June 25 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. here at Local 802. Space is limited: please RSVP by June 11 to Bob Pawlo at Rpawlo@Local802afm.org or call (212) 245-4802, ext. 191. For more, see the Calendar of Events.
- Tom Olcott has a fascinating analysis of how the union might be willing to help employers find funding for live music, using the case of the Paul Taylor Dance Company as an example.
- Harvey Mars reminds musicians about the benefits of being classified as an employee and the problems of being an independent contractor.
- Local 802 was recently deemed an official vendor for the New York public school system. This means that teaching artists can utilize Local 802 to help negotiate their contracts.
- Marvin Moschel gives us an overview of the Central Labor Council and what it’s up to. We also have some great photos of the live music that we supplied for the annual May Day rally at City Hall.
- We say goodbye to two greats this month: Joe Wilder and Abe (Glenn) Osser.
- The financial statements of the Emergency Relief Fund can be found in the printed issue on page 37.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Dennis Dreith has resigned as administrator of the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund. Dennis has not left us but rather is concentrating all his efforts in administering the AFM/SAG-AFTRA fund. The AFM/SAG-AFTRA fund is the intellectual property rights distribution fund for sound recordings of non-featured musicians and vocalists, for audiovisual performers in motion picture and television in specific foreign markets as well as symphonic, opera and ballet musicians and vocalists. We are thrilled to be able to continue to avail ourselves to the expertise of this seasoned administrator. Local 802 and the AFM welcome Kim Roberts Hedgepeth, the newly appointed administrator for the FMSMF. Kim is the former national executive director of AFTRA and we are happy to have her working with us.
The play “War Horse” is currently on stage in multiple countries. Unlike the recent production at Lincoln Center, which utilized recordings instead of live music, the production of “War Horse” playing in London had been doing the right thing by hiring musicians for the play instead of cheapening the production by using recorded music. Unfortunately, once again artistic integrity has been replaced by greed. The production in London recently fired its musicians and replaced them with a recording. Let’s protect live music everywhere in the world. Please help out our colleagues of the British Musicians Union by visiting www.MusiciansUnion.org.uk.
YES TO LIVE MUSIC
When it comes to live music, Local 802 is front and center. We are continuing our sponsorship of both the Fringe and New York Musical festivals. The new musical theatre initiative is in its ninth year and is one of the very important organizing efforts that Local 802 engages in. It is an opportunity for musicians starting their careers in theatre to be introduced to the union by actual visits with Local 802 staff and Broadway Theatre Committee delegates. The season culminates with a meet and greet in the club room where musicians – both members and non-members – can get together for a dinner and a panel discussion by important members of the theatre community. The event offers a rare opportunity for musicians in theatre to network with other musicians and learn more about what it takes to become a successful pit musician.
We are also once again co-sponsoring Piano in the Park this summer, which provides live music in Bryant Park for passersby to enjoy.
ALLEGRO WINS FIRST PLACE
I’m thrilled to report that our magazine Allegro recently won first prize in general excellence in the annual journalism contest of the Metro New York Labor Communications Council. We are proud of our award-winning journal.