The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CVI, No. 9September, 2006

The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the state of union affairs. The views expressed here do not 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:

I am most grateful for the most complimentary article about me in the July/August issue of Allegro. I have played and conducted enough concerts to have gathered better and worse reviews. For this good one, I didn’t have to play a note!

However, I am even more pleased that most of the copy dealt with the Bohemians and the activities of the club for almost 100 years. It is my hope that many of my fellow musicians, especially those in their younger years, will be interested in the advantages and joys of becoming members.

As mentioned in the article, I am delighted to hear from all who would care to learn more about the organization, and to become members. I may be reached by phone at (212) 663-4198, or by e-mail at

–Abba Bogin


To the Editor:

I recently posted a statement on the “Concerned Musicians” Web site, commenting on an article posted there. (See, click on “Speak Out,” and look for “Posting by Bud Burridge and CM802 Response.”)

The “Concerned Author” replied to me at length, not only on the Web site, but in a mass e-mail. Apparently, the points I made were not clear to him, so I will reduce them to two simple ideas. Thank you for taking a moment to read them.

  1. When the author looks only at Point A and Point Z in a negotiation, and then judges the “bargaining prowess of the negotiators,” with no explanation of how Point Z was reached, it is meaningless. More than that, it is an insult to the membership, who need to know all the facts, not just those that help reflect a political agenda.
  2. It’s time for the author and the Concerned Musicians Party to stop dividing the union. It’s time to stop placing blame. It’s time to look at the facts and find solutions for the future.

Concerned Musicians: Are you willing to join forces, look at the facts, analyze what went wrong, determine how to minimize the damage and avoid similar outcomes in the future?

As a member of the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra Committee, I am ready. I hope some of you are too.

–Bud Burridge


To the Editor:

EXECUTIVE ARROGANCE has helped to destroy our reputation in the world and our local community. David Lennon seems to have much in common with George W. Bush — characterizing all valid criticism as being politically motivated by traitors, ignoring laws or rules, and being consumed with power.

Both seem not to care about our reputation in the world or local community. Both seem to relish the power to ignore rules and lack common sense. Both make executive decisions and expenditures without consulting Congress or the Executive Board.

After 9/11, most supported and respected us. The United States has lost that respect because of Bush’s arrogance. After the Broadway strike, most supported and respected us. Local 802 has also lost that respect because of Lennon’s arrogance and bad judgment.

When the U.S. Supreme Court told Bush that he must follow the Constitution in regard to wiretapping, he ignored them. When officers of Local 802 told Lennon not to use the union’s credit card for personal expenses, he ignored them.

Bush asserts that it was an “oversight” that SEC requirements were not met when he sold Harken stock; Lennon claims that an “oversight” caused him to cash $1,700 in checks rightfully belonging to Local 802.

It is clear that each of these men ignore advice which conflicts with their personal agenda and consider themselves to be above the law. The Executive Board finally asked for Lennon’s resignation because of his serious financial improprieties. This would protect us from further embarrassment and legal expense, save our reputation in the public’s view and restore our credibility with managements. Why hasn’t he resigned?

The good news is that Lennon’s malfeasance isn’t on the world stage and therefore can’t start a war. The only question is why do Lennon’s supporters continue to make excuses for him.

–Lee Soper

To the Editor:

It is never helpful when candidates for union office use divisive rhetoric and attack presumed opponents with unsubstantiated charges. The members of Local 802 should not have to wade through a multitude of rumors and innuendo in order to evaluate the platforms of those running for office.

At a time when 802 is being investigated by the Department of Labor and defending against the misuse of local funds by the local’s president, a campaign has emerged suggesting that President Lennon’s unauthorized use of the union’s credit card was not so serious, that others were partially responsible, and certain Executive Board members reacted in a partisan and overboard way.

Anyone who has served on a local board has to know that legislators and government agencies have imposed stringent financial regulations on unions that are strictly enforced. There was nothing inconsequential about President Lennon’s behavior. He is solely responsible for his conduct and is the second AFM local president and IEB member recently found guilty of having used union funds improperly.

It has inflicted upon the union the sort of image problem that can only have a negative impact on our credibility with employers and be turned against us in collective bargaining in a very embarrassing and public way.

Musicians are increasingly being made redundant by technology. The tough collective bargaining road ahead is not served by internal bickering, specious accusations, or name calling. Little can be accomplished by continuing to debate matters already addressed in new bylaw changes. We should be turning our energy and attention to discussions of how we can protect the ever-shrinking number of jobs against employers who see musicians not as artists, but as an inconvenient economic burden to their bottom lines.

–Lucinda Lewis
The writer is a member of Local 802 and Local 16 (Newark).
She’s an AFM convention delegate from Local 16
and the principal hornist for the New Jersey Symphony.

President Lennon responds:

I respectfully submit, in regard to the recent financial matters Ms. Lewis speaks of, that the D.O.L. is presently conducting a preliminary inquiry. To date, I have not been “found guilty” by any adjudicating body of the government or this local. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the standard applied in Ms. Lewis’s court of public opinion.

To the Editor:

The recent actions and accusations made by the Executive Board against David Lennon have been brought to our attention. We want to share our experiences in working with David over the last two years on two extremely challenging negotiations.

David worked very closely with our committee and attorney on the negotiations for our new collective bargaining agreement, concluded in June 2005, and on our new comprehensive media agreement, concluded in June 2006. Both negotiations were difficult, the negotiation for the media agreement posing particular challenges for the union president. David proved to be, at every juncture, a steadfast and skillful ally to the members of our orchestra, and to the broader interests of musicians in our local and the international. We know that we have been fortunate to have had local union leadership which has been committed to the principle of rank-and-file leadership in negotiations. David raised the amount of energy and strength brought to the bargaining process. Additionally, David brought to us a new level of finesse, imagination and expertise. His skill in navigating a path for us which would represent our interests, as well as protecting the concerns of 802, ICSOM, AFM leadership and members, was crucial to the success of our negotiation. When we addressed the issue of finding a new way to structure a media agreement, one which would allow the Met to take a leadership role in exploitation of new media, while protecting our interests, and those of the broader membership, we were heading into an area of enormous complexity. Without David’s leadership in how to navigate these waters, we doubt we would have succeeded. We are enormously grateful for David’s contribution to our orchestra.

It seems like a challenging time for our local. We only hope that wise heads prevail.

–Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Committee
(Duncan Patton, chair; Sandy Balint; Kathy Caswell;
Kari Docter; Javier Gandara; Mary Hammann;
David Langlitz; Michael Parloff; Kingsley Wood)

To the Editor:

The Associate Musicians of the Metropolitan Opera represent approximately 200 musicians who participate in varying degrees in each and every Met performance.

We have recently completed two major negotiations with the Met management: one to establish the basic contract for the next five years and another groundbreaking agreement that will allow the Met to greatly increase their media production and marketing worldwide.

Unlike negotiations of the past, we were able to arrive at these agreements (one still to be ratified) without the help of outside counsel. This was possible principally because of the very close and respectful cooperation of the Associates Committee and the Orchestra Committee of the regular orchestra members. Local 802 provided us with the catalyst for this kind of unified approach in the form of David Lennon. His relationship with all those involved was the keystone to the tenor and substance of these proceedings.

Mr. Lennon attended all of our bargaining sessions and provided us with expert and insightful leadership. He took the time to understand the bewildering complexities of our work situation and helped us arrive at thoughtful positions to offer to management.

Most importantly he cleaved to union ideals to a far greater extent than any of the previous Local 802 administrations with which we have had to deal with since 1979. Notably, the principles of equal pay for equal work, solidarity among union members and the idea that all the performers at the Met are worthy of respectful treatment. Past presidents of Local 802 veered so far from these bedrock principles that they were willing to sign a letter for Met management guaranteeing that Local 802 members would cross a Local 802 picket line in the event of a strike. Their own picket line! Every union person should shudder at that kind of duplicity.

–Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Associate Musicians’ Committee
(Shem Guibbory, chair; Charles Urbont, vice-chair;
Larry Witmer, treasurer; Annamae Goldstein, secretary;
Michael Levin, secretary; Sharon Meekins; and Jacqueline Mullen)


To the Editor:

There is a mistake in the financial statement printed in the June 2006 issue of Allegro. In the listing of officers’ salaries for the year 2005, there is an asterisk next to my name and a footnote explanation. It states that I received $5,100, and “this amount is compensation received for serving on the Executive Board and does not include salary received as an employee of Local 802.”

That is not the case. Unlike all other members of the Executive Board, and in violation of our union bylaws, I am the only board member who is not compensated for serving on the Executive Board.

The salary I receive as an employee of Local 802 is the same salary that I would receive if I were not on the Executive Board, and is in line with compensation received by other 802 supervisory staff. No amount was added to my salary when I was elected to the Executive Board.

–Jay Schaffner
The writer is an elected member of the Local 802 Executive Board
and the supervisor of 802’s Recording Department.

Clarification from President Lennon:

Mr. Schaffner is incorrect when he claims he is “the only board member who is not compensated for serving on the Executive Board.” In preparing the 2004 budget, the three full-time officers reviewed how, in the past, the union had compensated board members who are also staff supervisors. In the past, 802 had pro-rated the supervisor’s weekly salary to four days per week, since the board meets once a week on Tuesdays. On that day the supervisor would be paid his or her salary for serving on the board, which is $150, in accordance with the bylaws. If we had followed that practice, Mr. Schaffner would be making considerably less than he is now. Instead he was given a 5 percent wage increase (the normal annual increase for supervisors is 3 percent) and his weekly salary was not pro-rated to four days per week.


To the Editor:

Jay Schaffner again artfully dissembles by disavowing his original printed statements (from the March Allegro) in the July/August Allegro and twisting mine while accusing me of political “nitpicking.” Compare these two Schaffner quotes:

1. “So, two weeks before release the score was shifted to Los Angeles” (March Allegro)

2. “scoring…took place in three weeks, not the seven which he (Mike) states.” (July/August Allegro)

I stated “…scoring moved to L.A. about 7 weeks before release.” I did not say that it was completed, only moved to L.A. at that time.

Again, compare two Schaffner quotes:

1. “…recording budgets in Canada do not include the cost of health coverage, since Canada has a national health plan.” (March Allegro)

2. “…did not say there are no health contributions made by Canadian film employers.” (July/August Allegro)

Schaffner then uses an article by West Coast writer Jon Burlingame for his statistics. While I have no desire to contradict Burlingame, whose book “For the Record: The Struggle and Ultimate Political Rise of American Recording Musicians” lists me as one of its three editors and contains a half-page photo of me on page 52, my information came directly from Local 47 President Hal Espinosa.

Schaffner sums up by alluding to current 802 politics and our personal differences — “I am disheartened to see that Mike’s nitpicking…,” etc.

I, too, am disheartened at the current state of political affairs in Local 802. A non-musician department supervisor/employee has joined 802 under the “music services” category, usually reserved for contractors and payroll services, and has been put on our Executive Board, thereby lessening his ability to serve the members impartially in a job that should be apolitical. If this is nitpicking then so be it.

–Michael Comins
The writer is a founder of both the Recording Musicians
Association and the Members Party.