This month, we’re pleased to present in Allegro a story that’s stranger than fiction. It’s the story of a bronze plaque that Local 802 commissioned over 100 years ago from a well-known artist. The plaque was created to honor the heroism of the musicians of the Titanic, who literally went down with the ship. For years, we owned and proudly displayed this plaque as well as a similar plaque honoring our members who lost their lives in World War II. These plaques were hung in our old location – Roseland Ballroom – on West 52nd Street. When we left Roseland in 1982, the plaques stayed behind by mistake. In fact, they were there as recently as last year. Then, when Roseland started doing some renovations, they got rid of the plaques. (Why we weren’t contacted at that time is a mystery.) The next thing we know, the plaques are in Orlando at a Titanic exhibition! The complete story of these plaques’ journey will boggle your mind.
DE BLASIO FOR MAYOR
Thanks to all of our members who helped out with the Bill de Blasio campaign and who voted for him. We’re excited that we have a mayoral candidate on the ticket who actually cares about working people. To our New York City members: please remember to vote for Bill in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 5. We’re also excited about the candidates we endorsed who won in the primaries, including Scott Stringer for comptroller. Here’s how NYC Central Labor Council Vincent Alvarez put it: “New York City’s Labor Movement made history today. Together we put forth a slate of winning advocates for working people. For too long in our city, working men and women had been taken for granted. Together with our affiliates, we committed significant resources to supporting extraordinary candidates who were anything but the status quo.”
Alvarez added, “Now that this first phase of the fall elections is complete, we can look forward to the November elections. The battles won today are worthy of celebration, but tomorrow, Labor will be right back to work, fighting on behalf of our members to elect labor-friendly, worker-friendly, candidates. Labor can make this happen, because we must make it happen. The safety, health, and well-being of New York City’s workers depend on the work we are doing, and we cannot let them down.”
To get involved in our political campaigns, contact my assistant K.C. Boyle at Kboyle@Local802afm.org or (212) 245-4802, ext. 176. Also see the Web site of the Central Labor Council at www.nycclc.org.
NEW YORK CITY OPERA
We regret to say that the New York City Opera is in dire straits. The New York Times has reported that the company will cancel most of its current season and all of its next season if it fails to raise $20 million by the end of the year. We believe that the downfall of NYCO was entirely due to poor management. Musicians put their heart and soul into the company and accepted a highly concessionary contract in a noble effort to save it. But even that still wasn’t enough to make up for management’s unforgivable decision to leave Lincoln Center, which was the worst of many mistakes. Without the prestige of being a Lincoln Center opera company, NYCO lost its audience, its identity, its prestige, and ultimately its funding base. We mourn what the NYCO musicians are going through, and we mourn the loss of “The People’s Opera.” So far, fundraising attempts to keep the opera afloat are coming up short and, unfortunately, it looks like the company may have to close its doors.
PLAYER CONFERENCE REPORTS
Last month, I reported to you about the annual conferences of the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) and the Theatre Musicians’ Association (TMA). This month, I’d just like to tell you briefly about the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) and the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians.
The OCSM conference was held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It was a very interesting and informative conference detailing the issues facing Canadian orchestra musicians. Not surprisingly, as delegates described their individual experiences with negotiations, there emerged a commonality of woes that is parallel to the very problems facing American orchestra musicians. These include the constant push to exploit orchestral musicians in both electronic media (i.e. recorded product) and company promotion, without appropriate compensation.
In Kansas City, where this year’s ICSOM conference was held, the topics were similar. Several concerns were discussed, including the apparent change in how orchestra associations are doing business. Bad management of orchestra association resources seems to be the norm and the orchestra musician has become the proverbial whipping boy, inheriting the responsibility to pay for the sins of management. These manifest themselves with draconian cuts in wages (in some cases as much as 40 percent), the refusal to fulfill pension obligations, and increased costs for health care. Appearing at the conference were members of the Minnesota Orchestra negotiating committee. We heard from the chair and other members of the committee as they navigate their way through an 11-month lockout. The entire conference rallied around the committee in solidarity and support. Unfortunately, as Allegro goes to press, there is no positive news to report regarding that ongoing battle.
OBAMACARE BEGINS NOW
For those musicians who don’t have health insurance, the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as “Obamacare”) may finally be ready to affect you in a positive way. Starting Oct. 1, you will be able to shop for and enroll in health insurance for coverage that will begin on Jan. 1, 2014. How do you do this? Simply start at www.HealthCare.gov. Also, come any Thursday to a free workshop on the new health insurance system, for musicians and other artists, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Actors’ Fund, at 729 Seventh Avenue (between West 48th Street and West 49th Street), on the 10th floor. No reservations required: just show up. For more information on these workshops, contact Renata Marinaro at (917) 281-5965 or Rmarinaro@ActorsFund.org. Local 802 members can also e-mail Local 802 health fund trustee Martha Hyde at EarMar4@verizon.net with general questions about the new health insurance law. Finally, we’ve also printed an info sheet in this issue of Allegro.
What if you already have health insurance through one of Local 802’s plans or collective bargaining agreements? Our plans are going to change in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act. Details are still being worked out. We’ll make a major announcement to all members when the final details are set.
TEACH THE CHILDREN
What’s the best way to make sure that live music prospers in the future? Teach the children! In this issue of Allegro, we have two important stories about how we’re supporting the effort to reach the next generation of artists and audiences. The first is about NYU’s Broadway Percussion Summit and Seminar, which teaches student musicians from all over the country just what it takes to be a percussionist on Broadway. The program features guest lectures and performances by Local 802 members, and culminates with students being allowed to sit in a Broadway pit during a show. As part of the summit, students visit Local 802 where they are given an introduction to the union. See our story “Want to play percussion on Broadway?” in this issue.
Another way we’re reaching out to the next generation is through Inside Broadway’s Summer Stock Jr. program, which we host here at Local 802. Formerly called Broadway Boot Camp, this program lets theatre students design a mini-musical, in five days’ time. Local 802 member BJ Gandolfo provides the live piano music. Students have lots of fun and get to know the union just by being here. It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone. See our story “Broadway Bound” in this issue.
Local 802 recently negotiated a developmental agreement for a new show called “Allegiance.” We also renegotiated our contract with Big Apple Circus. Remember, if you’re called to play musical theatre of any kind – including circus shows – call our Theatre Department at (212) 245-4802. We have an excellent track record of helping you achieve the pay and benefits you deserve while protecting your job and your identity.
Long live Broadway musicians! The Broadway League and the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds recently honored almost 300 musicians – and many other Broadway artists – who have served on Broadway for at least 25 years.
“Broadway Salutes is an occasion for our community to acknowledge the hundreds of people who work on Broadway, behind the scenes and on stage,” said Carl Mulert, a business rep for United Scenic Artists Local USA 829 and the co-chair of the Broadway Salutes committee. Mulert added, “On this day, the artists as well as the crafts people and technicians, artist representatives and a myriad of other persons who are never seen by the audience will be honored for their remarkable talent. The dedication of these hard working individuals supports the industry that brings in billions of dollars to New York City annually and provides countless hours of enjoyment for New Yorkers and tourists alike.”
I’m proud of our Broadway musicians, some of whom have spent 50 years of their career on Broadway. Keep up the good work! For more information, see www.BroadwaySalutes.com.
GOOD NEWS FROM CANADA
Club owners in Canada may now find it cheaper to hire AFM members, which is good news for U.S. musicians who want to play north of the border.
The Canadian governmental recently imposed a new Labour Market Opinion (LMO) “processing fee” for foreign musicians in certain venues under certain conditions. However, this fee will not apply to AFM members. Under the Canadian regulations, AFM members are exempt from the LMO requirement.
“If Canadian bar and restaurant owners wish to avoid these fees when importing musicians from the United States, they need simply hire AFM musicians and sign a union contract for their services. This is a procedure they should consider regardless to ensure professional quality, and the contract is their guarantee the band will appear and perform as agreed upon,” said Alan Willaert, AFM vice president from Canada, in a press release.
If your band gets a chance to tour Canada, please tell your manager, promoter or venue owner that you are a member of the AFM and that this could potentially save the venue a lot of money. This is an excellent benefit of union membership and a great way to promote union musicians.
Musicians who have questions can call Liana White at our counterpart, the Canadian Federation of Musicians, at (800) 463-6333, ext. 232, or send her e-mail at Lwhite@afm.org.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
- I’m pleased to announce that Adam Witkowski is our new director of organizing. He was hired at Local 802 in September 2012 as an organizer and I introduced him in my May 2013 column.
- We mourned the death of jazz hero Marian McPartland on Aug. 20 at the age of 95. Ms. McPartland first joined Local 802 in 1952. We are proud to publish two tributes to her in this issue, one by Bill Crow and one by Todd Weeks.
- We are excited that French horn master Julie Landsman, a 25-year veteran of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra, is featured in an exclusive interview in this issue.
- Local 802 member Abe (Glenn) Osser, the composer, conductor and arranger, just turned 99 on Aug. 28. He has been a member of Local 802 since 1936! To read more about his incredible life, check out our 2001 interview with him.
- Trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie would have turned 96 on Oct. 21. As a fellow trumpeter, Diz was a personal inspiration to me. Please read Jimmy Owens’ tribute to Diz.
NO INITIATION FEE
If you have any musical acquaintances who haven’t yet joined Local 802 for whatever reason, now is the time. We are waiving our initiation fee for all new members who join the union from now through Dec. 31. Now there’s every reason to join the largest and strongest musicians’ union in the world. Tell your friends and colleagues to call the Membership Department at (212) 245-4802 to join or for more info.
CONGRATS TO ALLEGRO
Allegro has continued its proud tradition of placing in the top tier of all labor magazines in its circulation class, as judged by the International Labor Communications Association. Allegro won second place for general excellence in the ILCA’s annual labor journalism contest. Our magazine was judged against the top labor publications in the country and came out in the winner’s circle. Congratulations to all staff and members who contribute to Allegro and who make our journal great. For more on the award, see www.ILCAonline.org.