The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CIX, No. 2February, 2009

The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the state of union affairs. The letters published here do not necessarily express the views of Local 802. Letters must be 300 words or less. Send them to Allegro, c/o Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036, or e-mail Mikael Elsila, the editor, at


To the Editor:

At the end of every political campaign there always seems to come a time when either one declares victory or one concedes defeat and typically pledges support to the winner and the universal cause. No matter how acrimonious the campaign has been, the realization that we all have everyone’s best intentions in mind and the concession that the majority has chosen whom they deem the best suited to carry out a plan to realize those intentions is a healing component necessary in every election process.

Local 802 held elections in 2006. Instead of words of concession and a pledge of support from the runners-up, we have heard nothing but disgruntled disappointment and incendiary, intimidating and confrontational rhetoric, which has impeded progress and besmirched the entire union’s image both within and without the industry. 

I have talked with several 802 members who may have considered running for office, but are no longer interested in serving in the post-election environment. This is a loss to the union as a whole, as many dedicated members no longer wish to participate in the process, giving back to the organization (however flawed we may be) that has been responsible for protecting us through the bulk of our careers.

Disagreement is important and can lead to a discourse that can lead to greater understanding and a better outcome for all. A mutual respect seems always appropriate and beneficial in such instances.

I am not a member of the administration and have no reason to write this letter except that I am fed up with what has been going on and personally embarrassed by it. I feel it is time to move forward with the business of the union and not just our own personal agendas.

–Gregory J. Dlugos


To the Editor:

I am writing to strongly object to censorship in Allegro. Recently Allegro imposed a new policy which restricted members to writing on any given subject a maximum of two times. This policy was imposed because subsequent to a very nice article on bringing musical program to Palestine, an ongoing debate on the Israel/Palestine issue ensued. I feel that Allegro’s policy is a good one. Allegro does not exist as a forum for ongoing political debate and there should be such a restriction.

However, I have just been prevented from having a letter printed. That letter was about Allegro’s treatment of the presidential election. The reason it was vetoed was because I had written twice about Israel/Palestine. The letter contained a reference to Israel/Palestine but, significantly, was not about Israel/Palestine. Obama’s position on Israel/Palestine is relevant to the subject of the election and to Allegro’s treatment of same.

While Allegro functions chiefly as an information paper for 802 members, let’s be clear that it absolutely is a politically-oriented paper. Allegro endorsed Obama. Allegro dedicated an issue to the election. Having done so, Allegro needs to be responsible and allow members to comment on this. It will be very difficult for me to continue to be a member of this local if its paper practices censorship.

–Rich Siegel

ALLEGRO RESPONDS: Mr. Siegel is correct that the Allegro editorial board has passed a new internal policy regarding letters to the editor, but he is incorrect in saying that we refused to print his letter. 

Some background is needed. In November 2007, Allegro published a story on a music workshop in the West Bank. We received a large quantity of letters for many months afterward from both sides of the Israel/Palestine debate. In time, we also received complaints that the letters did not relate to the central role of the union in representing musicians in employment situations. 

In response to those complaints, the Allegro editorial board passed the following internal policy: members may submit no more than two letters to Allegro on any single topic. This policy is not meant to censor; it’s merely meant to allow members to present their views adequately while preventing a “paper war” between a small number of members on any one subject. 

Since this is a rare situation, the Allegro board has not had to enforce this policy — until now.

Mr. Siegel recently submitted a letter to Allegro about President Barack Obama, in which he referenced Obama’s position on Israel/Palestine. Even though Mr. Siegel had previously submitted four letters to Allegro about Israel/Palestine (which we published in January 2008, February 2008, March 2008 and October 2008), the Allegro board told Mr. Siegel that we would publish his latest letter since it did contain other comments about Local 802’s support of Obama in the recent presidential election. But we said he would have to remove the reference to Israel/Palestine, since it violated our policy. Mr. Siegel refused and instead wrote the letter above, which we are publishing. 

We hope that the membership will view this policy as a reasonable one that allows members to express their opinions on a wide spectrum of topics without allowing the views of any one member on any one topic to dominate the pages of the paper to the detriment of others.