The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CX, No. 1January, 2010

The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the state of union affairs. The letters here do not necessarily express the views of Local 802. E-mail letters to


Our story begins in Utica, New York. My brother Torrie was my idol. He was six years older than me.

My uncle, who was also a musician, gave Torrie a pile of old miniature score books, the old masters. Torrie would sit at the kitchen table on Sundays and listen, thrilled, to the classical station on the radio, score books open.

Torrie got me into playing. He would sit at the grand piano and I would stand there and play on a magazine with my brushes.

He moved to New York City and studied with the great Marion Evans. He married his first wife Dorothy and then their daughter Lisa came along. I soon arrived in the city and worked with many gifted writers. When music was passed out on a record date and Torrie’s name was on it, I was so proud. On a TV show pre-record, the orchestra sounded okay. But when they passed out the underscore music that Torrie wrote, the orchestra sounded beautiful. I said, “You guys sound great,” and Jim Pugh said to me, “It’s the notes your brother gave us to play.”

The great and mischievous Johnny Frosk would needle me and instead of calling me “Ronnie,” he’d yell out, “Hey! Torrie Zito’s brother!” I would say, “What a great compliment, man!”

Torrie was a great listener. He’d always give you his undivided attention. He once told me that he loved listening to the way my wife Pat and I spoke to each other.

Torrie recorded with his second wife, singer Helen Merrill. He orchestrated, she sang.

I started this story by saying that Torrie was my idol. Russ Kassoff, a terrific writer, said, “He was everyone’s idol.”

God bless you, Torrie. We love and miss you.

–Ronnie Zito


D’Addario & Company (“D’Addario”) respectfully offers the following response to the November 2009 “Strung Out” article.

Allegro relied upon information from a disgruntled former D’Addario employee and anonymous International Association of Machinists (“IAM”) officials to recount what allegedly transpired concerning union organization activities at our company.

These accounts represent a disservice to us, you, your readers, our customers and artists we support.

First, Samuel Cortes, quoted extensively, was terminated by D’Addario for cause.

Also, contrary to his unsubstantiated remarks, meetings held with D’Addario’s mechanics were bilingual in order to ensure that they clearly understood their rights.

No charges alleging bribery or coercion were filed with the NLRB.

Rather, IAM filed claims alleging that D’Addario engaged in bad faith bargaining by offering two additional paid holidays and providing our mechanics with transportation to Brooklyn so that they could vote “no” on the proposed contract negotiated between IAM and D’Addario.

Upon investigation, the NLRB’s Regional Director found that “proceedings were not warranted,” dismissing both claims.

Reviewing IAM’s appeal, the NLRB’s Office of the General Counsel determined that the evidence “failed to establish” D’Addario engaged in bad faith bargaining and that “there is no basis for issuance of a complaint.” Regarding the aforementioned vote, our mechanics decidedly rejected the contract IAM negotiated on their behalf.

On Oct. 29, 2009, D’Addario’s mechanics overwhelmingly voted (12 to 5) to decertify IAM as their collective bargaining agent in a NLRB certified election, without challenge from IAM.

For over 100 years, D’Addario has recognized that our greatest asset is our employees.

Our negotiations with IAM concerned only seventeen of approximately one thousand employees.

Given our history and support of Local 802 musicians, we refuse to allow a former disgruntled employee and anonymous IAM officials to misrepresent what transpired during our dealings with IAM and attempt to tarnish our reputation.

We value our relationship with Allegro and appreciate the opportunity to respond to these scurrilous assertions.

–Jim D’Addario