The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CIX, No. 4April, 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:

Thank you, President Landolfi, for your much-deserved praise of my good friend Bob Cranshaw in your president’s report last month. I was privileged to sit beside Bob for 26 years as we recorded music for “Sesame Street.” I feel honored by our continuing friendship and grateful for his musicianship. Again, thank you for honoring a very fine gentleman and Local 802 member.

–Jim Mitchell 


To the Editor,

I write to express my concern about the Feb. 11 membership meeting. With what’s happening in the country and its effects on the music industry, it’s disconcerting to see our union meet solely to discuss resolutions focused on minute adjustments to the bylaws.

Much was made of the fact that for the second meeting in a row, a quorum was not obtained. Apparently, the topics presented for discussion at these meetings — flawed survey results discarded by the administration, and inconsequential changes to obscure election procedures — are sufficiently removed from the working lives of union musicians as to preclude their attendance.

One speaker seemed to imply that the administration was intentionally not doing all it could to publicize the meetings by only advertising them in Allegro, and not 802 Notes. How can this be when Allegro is received by all 9,000 members, and there are only 4,500 e-mail addresses in the 802 Notes database?

Other speakers seemed to feel the administration was hiding behind its legal counsel — yet their speaking points consistently ran afoul of federal labor laws, necessitating a response from the union’s lawyer.

And so it went all night long, the discussion meandering into ever more irrelevant remarks over mostly inconsequential bylaw resolutions and their supposed relation to the elections of 2006.

Meanwhile the film negotiations, loss of chairs on Broadway and shrinking orchestral endowments — to name but a few — rate nary a word.

Our industry is under intense pressure from every angle. The challenges we face are enormous, and they’re not going away. I humbly suggest that spending hours dissecting the minutiae of the union’s bylaws is not going to surmount those challenges.

–Roy Williams 


To the Editor:

I think that we should note the fine job done by President Landolfi and the staff for organizing lobbying trips to Albany to exert influence on this important issue. My thanks to them, and to all that helped get this job done. It really is a no brainer that the greedy irresponsible businesses that caused this financial mess and the “bonus babies” should be paying to clean this up, not working people. 

–Dave Weiss


The following letters are regarding the new union contract won by musicians in the “Wonder Pets!” orchestra. See story in this issue.

To the Editor:

What a wonderful, groundbreaking moment this is for all of us in “Wonder Pets!” — for Jay Schaffner, President Mary Landolfi, the union, and everyone who worked so hard on this.

“Wonder Pets!” is an amazing television show. It has class, charm, wit, and great live musicians playing terrific music created for each episode by contemporary and talented composers and orchestrators.

Josh Selig created this idea, and with all of us — Larry Hochman and Jeffrey Lesser, the music created by the talented composers and orchestrators and played by all the great and talented musicians — won an Emmy. We became the number-one hit children’s television show in the country.

It is a real testament to what can happen when you combine wonderful live music with talented and great musicians and a beautiful creative television show.

–Sharon Moe
The writer is the French hornist in the “Wonder Pets!” orchestra.

The following letter was written by AFM President Tom Lee to Local 802 President Mary Landolfi. It is reprinted here with permission from President Lee.

Dear President Landolfi:

The IEB reviewed the negotiation history of the CBA regarding “Wonder Pets!” which was authorized by the International Executive Board after a presentation made at its quarterly meeting held in Alexandria, VA in 2007. It was agreed at that time that this would be an experimental agreement pertaining to children’s shows that were on cable television.

The resultant CBA negotiated by Local 802 on behalf of a collective bargaining unit and the ratification of the terms of the agreement by that bargaining unit were considered by the IEB yesterday afternoon in a conference call.

I’m pleased to inform you that the IEB also approved this agreement and asks that you keep the Federation informed on its success.

Further, to take a basically nonunion engagement in which the members of the band were fired and turn it into a union engagement with pension and health benefits is commendable and a step forward in capturing a large nonunion market that currently records in foreign countries.

The IEB sends its best to everyone involved in this effort.

–Thomas F. Lee