Taking a Closer Look at Our Membership

Volume CVIII, No. 2February, 2008

Julia Smith

In 2005, the Local 802 Executive Board contracted with the Labor Relations and Research Center at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) to survey the Local 802 membership.

The aim of the survey was to assess the state of our union and the working experience of our membership to inform strategic planning for Local 802’s future.

The results of the survey were presented to the Local 802 Executive Board in January 2006.

Here are some of the highlights from the survey results:


Local 802 members are highly educated. Ninety-eight percent of survey respondents have some college education or more. The vast majority of our members are white (89 percent of respondents) and most are male (76 percent of respondents).


The top three types of music Local 802 members reported playing are symphonic, jazz and theatre. Almost a quarter of respondents indicated that the primary type of music they play falls into the category of “other,” which included Jewish, classical chamber music, folk, gospel, Americana, Indian kirtan and electronic music.

Respondents were asked what musical activities they spend the most time on. On average, members reported that they spend the most time teaching, although there was great variation in members’ experiences here, with some spending almost all of their working time teaching and others spending very little. Second to teaching, respondents on average spent the most time working on Broadway, then in club dates, and then single engagements. Respondents earned the biggest proportion of their income from teaching, followed by Broadway and then club dates.

  • On average, respondents reported that they make 15 percent of their income through non-musical activities.
  • For a small, but significant number of respondents (15 percent), more than half of their income comes from non-musical activities.
  • Almost a quarter of respondents (24 percent) reported that their annual income was within the range of $30,000 to $49,000.
  • Twenty-one percent of respondents made slightly more, in the range of $50,000 to $69,000.
  • A small, but noteworthy, group of respondents (14 percent) reported income of more than $110,000 a year.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, about 18 percent of respondents make less than $30,000 a year.


Survey respondents identified health care as the most important union issue. The survey results confirmed what we all know about the health care challenges our members face. A large portion of 802 members pay for some or all of their health insurance benefits and a significant number have no health coverage at all.

Until recently, Julia Smith was the union’s political and public relations director; in January, she left Local 802 to work for State Sen. Eric Schneiderman.