Let’s start out this month with three pieces of good news. First, an appreciation for Bob Dylan, who has been a member of Local 802 since 1961. Mr. Dylan was recently honored by the Grammy foundation MusiCares as its person of the year. Congratulations, Bob! You can search the internet for a video of Bob Dylan’s acceptance speech, where he gives a personal glimpse into his songwriting process. Next, just as MusiCares provides assistance for musicians in times of need, so does Local 802’s Emergency Relief Fund. I’m happy to report that the organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has made an amazing donation of $25,000 to our fund, which will provide it with a much-needed boost. We are incredibly grateful for this generosity. Lastly, the Jazz Foundation, which also provides superb assistance to musicians, recently renewed its agreement with Local 802 covering the house band at our Monday night jam sessions (see photos), meaning that those musicians will once again earn pension credits towards a dignified retirement. May we all continue to have the resources to fight for rights and well-being of musicians everywhere.
NEWS FROM LINCOLN CENTER
In early February, the New York Philharmonic reported that Alan Gilbert has decided to step down as music director at the end of the summer in 2017. “Making music with the New York Philharmonic is a great joy for me,” Gilbert said in a press release. “I am very proud of the musical journey we are taking together.” In a conversation I had with Bill Thomas, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the New York Philharmonic, I learned that Maestro Gilbert’s departure was a personal decision based on the direction he has chosen for his career. Mr. Thomas also noted that Maestro Gilbert’s tenure at the Philharmonic, although slightly longer than that of his predecessor Lorin Maazel, was similar to the average tenure of past musical directors – including Kurt Masur, who served for 11 years. We wish Maestro Gilbert the best, and hope that the first native New York conductor of our renowned orchestra stays close to home.
I am happy to report that Local 802 has successfully negotiated the successor agreement with the New York City Ballet for a term of three years. The agreement achieves wage increases of 6 percent for the term of the agreement as well as a significant increase in health benefit contributions for musicians who are not basic or rotation members of the orchestra. Substitute musicians for the ballet rely on contributions to the Local 802 Health Fund for their health insurance, and the negotiating committee worked hard to raise the contribution to a level that would provide for those musicians the same level of eligibility for the health plan that the former contributions represented. Though there were some difficult and complicated changes to work rules regarding attendance, overall this agreement represents an economic package that is commensurate with the level of musicianship of the New York City Ballet Orchestra. I thank the orchestra committee for all of its efforts and hard work and for representing the best interests of the orchestra.
Finally, while we are still trying to achieve a comprehensive contract with Lincoln Center covering all of its American Songbook programs, we did manage to cover at least one show this year for the musicians who performed with the singer Billy Porter. Also, musicians will be covered under a Local 802 contract for the upcoming production of “The King and I” at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Previews begin March 12.
Remember, any time you get called for a job at Lincoln Center and you’re not sure if it’s covered by a union contract or not, please call us at (212) 245-4802 and ask for a theatre rep or organizer. We have a great track record in helping you get the pay and benefits you deserve while protecting your identity and your job. It’s especially important that we uphold our standards at Lincoln Center or any of our major halls.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
March is Women’s History Month, which has its roots in the textile industry where women historically have endured terrible working conditions. It’s the month in which we remember the 146 victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, which was the largest industrial disaster in the history of New York City. Most of the victims were immigrant women. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the textile workers’ union (the ILGWU). This year’s commemoration, which is the 104th anniversary of the tragedy, will take place from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25 at the corner of Washington Place and Greene Street, the site of the original building. For more information, see www.RememberTheTriangleFire.org.
March is also the month in which Cesar Chavez, the founder of the farm workers’ union and a defender of human rights, was born. He would have been 88 on March 31. For information about activities and how to get involved, see www.ChavezFoundation.org or www.ufw.org.
Here’s a roundup of articles in this issue of Allegro:
- We’re pleased to feature two major interviews: flutist and Local 802 member Katherine Fink and former SAG/AFTRA president Roberta Reardon, who shares with us her hard-won lessons of union leadership. I encourage everyone to read both interviews.
- As part of our series on our members who also teach music, please read a riveting essay by Janet Grice. It will make you want to share your music with the next generation of musicians.
- John O’Connor tackles the important question of why musicians should join Local 802 in our cover story. Please share this article with any of your musician colleagues who are not members of Local 802 yet.
- Harvey Mars exposes the recent trend of certain Local 802 members working under union contracts who try to get their paychecks made out to their corporate name instead of their own name. This is extremely risky for both the musician and the union. Please read the article, and if you’re one of the musicians who has been doing this, call us so we can advise you.
- In Requiem, we remember the lives of several Local 802 members who have left us recently, including Ronnie Bedford, Elmira Belkin, Alvin Brehm, Jeff Golub, J. Hamilton Grandison, Howard Hirsch, Harold Jones, Diane Leslie, Chris White and Wilmer Wise. As a fellow trumpet player, I want to make a special mention of Wilmer Wise, who was a hugely respected trumpet player and mentor to many, including myself. Local 802 sends its condolences and sympathy to the families of all of the deceased. Also, a tribute to our dear friend Mary Whitaker will take place on Sunday, May 3 at 8 p.m. at St. John the Divine. Click for more information.
- We recently filmed a roundtable panel about Broadway brass musicians in my office for the web site www.hip-bonemusic.com. The session was very interesting: I encourage our members to check it out!
- Local 802 is now accepting applications for this year’s Anne Walker Scholarship Announcement. Click for more information.
- It pays to record in NYC. We applaud Netflix for choosing to use NYC musicians to record the score for its new show “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” under an AFM agreement. When a production comes to town, Local 802 is on it. We encourage producers to record the film soundtrack in NYC, take advantage of tax breaks, and hire Local 802 musicians. But we need your help in this campaign. For more information, contact the organizing department or the recording department at (212) 245-4802.
- Let’s keep NYC affordable for all artists. The mayor’s office recently reported in a press release that it wants to help low-income artists thrive in New York City. To that end, the Department of Cultural Affairs will work with cultural partners, housing agencies and philanthropists to invest $30 million in 1,500 affordable live/work spaces for artists in the coming decade. The city also said it will convert underutilized city-owned assets into 500 below-market artist workspaces, creating new cultural hubs for communities to share in performances and arts education. We applaud these efforts to provide affordable housing to artists.
In our interview with Howard Johnson in the February issue of Allegro, we neglected to mention that the photographer for the group shot was Albie Mitchell.