In my report last November, I mentioned that the local was beginning a process of long-term strategic planning. It is to be hoped that this will give us a better understanding of our place in the entertainment industry and the status of our relationships with various employers, with other unions and with the public. And in looking at where we need to go, it will be important to put our efforts in perspective by examining how far we have come over the last decade.
The Executive Board has now begun that process in earnest. We have been interviewing potential facilitators and meeting with Local 802 supervisory staff to obtain their detailed, comprehensive views of the fields they administer. The development of this plan is expected to take some months of intermittent activity. Most board members are working musicians and have limited time available, while the full-time officers, now numbering only two, must continue to administer the local.
A tentative outline for moving forward has been created and given to the board. While it is highly probable that this plan will be modified, it will contain at least the following elements:
- A review of our recent activities – looking at our achievements, our failures and our current status. An industry-by-industry analysis will be undertaken which will attempt to determine the likely direction of the business in each field. It will include discussion of emerging technologies, a specific examination of our current major collective bargaining agreements, and an evaluation of the present state of relationships between those employers and the union.
- A restatement of our goals.
- A look at Local 802’s place in the musician community, our role in the AFM, our work with the other entertainment industry unions, and in the broader labor and political movements. As part of this we will look at our role in the upcoming city, state and federal elections and the work we are contemplating in the legislative arena.
- An evaluation of Local 802’s administrative functions. How well does our organization work, and how can it improve? This will include an examination and evaluation of our staff, our hiring practices and our training policies.
- An education program for both interested rank-and-file activist members and Local 802 officers and staff.
- Finally, an examination of our finances, including income projections, potential resources and expense needs.
- Questions have arisen, of course, about our ability to develop a specific plan to address a business that is both somewhat unpredictable and currently quite volatile. As is the case with all labor unions, we are reactive by design – we do not often cause change within an industry but rather, at best, attempt to anticipate and respond intelligently to change.
To expect that we will be able to accurately predict the future may be unrealistic, considering that many of our larger signatory employers are likewise uncertain as to exactly where their business is going and what the future may hold for them. Nevertheless, we should be able to read a great many of the signs along the road and recognize general directions and likely trends. At the very least, we will learn a great deal about our union and ourselves.
If we do it right, we should emerge from this exercise with a process in place that can be utilized in the future to address major concerns with a unified voice. The process itself may be as important a product as the plan it ultimately produces.
HEALTH CARE IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
A group of entertainment industry unions in New York City have been working with the Actors’ Fund in an effort to take advantage of new state funds being made available for health care through the increased cigarette tax, tobacco settlement and renewal of the Health Care Reform Act (HCRA). One of HCRA’s goals is to reduce the number of uninsured New Yorkers. We are making the argument that in the entertainment industry, where employment is often sporadic, a program is needed that would either subsidize COBRA payments or make low-cost, state-assisted health insurance available.
We have been working on this effort with health care consultant Barbara Caress and lobbyist Richard Winsten. Hopefully we will have progress to report in future issues of Allegro.
INTERNET DEAL NEARLY COMPLETE
After several meetings between an AFM/ICSOM committee and representatives of a number of major orchestras, the framework of a deal for the sale and/or streaming of music over the internet is in place. After the details are finalized there will be a ratification process for these orchestras. Local 802 Board member Jay Blumenthal and I participated in these negotiations. We hope to be able to report more fully on this, also, in the next Allegro.