I want to wish a Happy New Year to everyone. It’s hard to believe that another year has gone by and that so much has happened in our union and in our country. As we reflect on our accomplishments and challenges, I’d like to offer a recap of some of the highlights of the past 12 months at Local 802.
Several world events affected us all last year. First, the election of Donald Trump was disappointing to some of us and surprising to most of us. In this issue, please see several stories about how union members and all of us can organize and come together in the days and years to come. The AFM and other music organizations recently sent a letter to president-elect Trump that zeroed in on his campaign pledge to protect intellectual property rights. In early December we held a well-attended membership meeting where we talked about how the upcoming Trump administration may affect the labor movement. At the same meeting, we rededicated the Titanic musicians’ plaque, which Local 802 attorney Harvey Mars recovered for the union.
We lived through several traumatic events in 2016 including the horrific attack that took place at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando as well as the terrorist event in Nice, France that killed 85 people and wounded more than 300. In both cases, Local 802 members responded with compassion. Musicians created a benefit recording of the song “What the World Needs Now is Love” (for the Orlando victims), and Local 802 member Dominic Derasse gathered a group of brass players to perform a tribute in Times Square (for the Nice victims).
Also in 2016, we marked the 15th anniversary of 9/11 with a special ceremony organized in part by Local 802 member Ralph Farris. The names of all of those who came to help after the attacks and who have since died, including musicians, were called out loud. Ralph wrote about this event in a beautiful article that was published in these pages.
In 2016, there was a lot of great music coming out of Lincoln Center. The New York City Opera was reborn after spending two years in limbo. NYCO’s first production in its new form – Puccini’s “Tosca” – took place at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theatre at Columbus Circle. We reached a deal with Lincoln Center for its American Songbook series. The Orchestra of St. Luke’s once again partnered with Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance Music under a Local 802 union contract. We celebrated the 33rd birthday of the New York Pops.
In 2016, the 100th AFM convention took place. Ray Hair was re-elected to another three-year term as president of the AFM and I was re-elected to the International Executive Board. We said goodbye to AFM Secretary-Treasurer Sam Folio, who was replaced by Jay Blumenthal, a name familiar to many Local 802 members. The AFM chose to not put a dues increase on the table, so AFM dues will remain the same. This was welcome news for all members.
In 2016, I was honored to serve as an AFM delegate to the Congress of the International Federation of Musicians in Reykjavik and accompany AFM President Ray Hair at the subsequent presidium that took place in Paris. We’re working to expand the global campaign of fair remuneration to musicians for the exploitation of our product on the internet. We’re also working on the problems musicians face with airline travel, including carrying instruments on airplanes and traveling with instruments that contain African ivory, ebony, pernambuco and other special materials.
I also attended many other strategic meetings during the year, including ROPA and other player conferences. I was appointed one of the six trustees of the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. And I continued to meet with the NYC Cultural Plan Citizens’ Advisory Committee, a group of stakeholders in the arts community that seeks to help the city develop a cultural arts plan.
In 2016, we focused heavily on our efforts to advocate for jazz musicians and supporters. We started the year by hosting a panel at the Jazz Connect conference. The NYC Winter Jazzfest took place soon after under a Local 802 union contract, and we later won a $10,000 settlement covering musicians who were recorded at the Winter Jazzfest a year earlier. We also won a renewal contract with Jack Kleinsinger and his Highlights in Jazz concert series. Recording Vice President Andy Schwartz inaugurated our Jazz Mentors series and successfully produced seven highly-attended events, featuring Ron Carter, Bill Charlap, Renee Rosnes, Maria Schneider, the late Bob Cranshaw, Jazzmeia Horn, Paquito D’Rivera, Rufus Reid, Rachel Z., Matt Wilson, Su Terry, Ben Allison, Alvester Garnett, Amy London, Sherrie Maricle, Marc Ribot, Bobby Sanabria, Omar Hakim, Randy Sandke, Kim A. Clarke, Grace Kelly, Diane Moser, Nicki Parrott, Carol Sudhalter, Joe Lovano, Regina Carter and Judi Silvano.
We also produced a new series called Jazz in the Afternoon, which raises money for our Emergency Relief Fund. That series in 2016 featured Steve Karmen, Jay Leonhart, Ron Wasserman & the New York Jazzharmonic, Wally Dunbar, Bill Warfield, Glen Daum & Roger Rhodes & the 48th Street Big Band, Ed Palermo, 3 Divas and Greg Ruvolo. We also were proud to present Ed Joffe in an educational clinic on woodwind doubling.
Also in jazz, the National Endowment for the Arts bestowed the title of Jazz Master on two members of Local 802: Dave Holland and Dick Hyman. Separately, Local 802 member Wayne Shorter was inducted into the Academy of Arts and Sciences. Also, Local 802 member Jimmy Owens was honored with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Jazz Legacy Award, which was given to him, saxophonist Joe Ford and the Jazzmobile organization. And, of course, Local 802 member Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
In 2016, we achieved a renewal agreement with the Big Apple Circus and contracts for readings or productions of “A View Upstairs,” “Howard,” “Freed,” “Himself and Nora,” “Cagney,” “Bull Durham,” “On the Rails,” “A Dog Story: The Musical,” “Takarazuka Chicago” and “Twelfth Night” (featuring the Jambalaya Brass Band). We successfully got a contract for the New York engagement of a touring performance of “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage.” We also won contracts with the Classic Stage Company, MCC Theatre, The New Group, Vineyard Theatre, John Engeman Theatre and the Manhattan Theatre Club/Friedman Theatre.
In 2016, the Pierre Hotel renewed its participation in the Local 802 hotel agreement, which means that our musicians who perform there will enjoy the benefits and guarantees of a union contract. Also in 2016, part-time jazz faculty at the New School faculty unanimously ratified the latest version of their contract, which included some significant benefits and big changes that musicians wrote about in Allegro. We also achieved an agreement covering musicians who performed in Cirque du Soleil’s show “Paramour” at the Lyric Theatre.
In 2016, we wished our best to Maestro James Levine, who ended his role as music director at the Metropolitan Opera.
In 2016, we congratulated Eliane Elias, Tim Kubart, Christian McBride, Arturo O’Farrill, Maria Schneider, John Scofield and the musicians of “Hamilton” for winning Grammys.
In 2016, we interviewed in these pages Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, and musicians Al Stewart, Dave Eggar, Suzanne Ornstein, David Amram, Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Eva Conti, Al Carty, Ron Carter, Michael Keller, Paquito d’Rivera, Valerie Naranjo, Laura Dreyer, Kat Modiano and the musicians of “Hamilton.” We also published guest commentaries from Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl and Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez.
In 2016, Broadway musicians ratified their new contract with the League. Theatre minimums remained unchanged and the new contract also included a raise for musicians as well as provisions for workplace health and safety and a greater dialogue regarding electronic music. The League reported that the previous season’s attendance reached over 13.3 million people and Broadway shows yielded over $1.3 billion in grosses, the best attended and highest grossing season in Broadway recorded history.
In 2016, the Broadway League and the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds honored Local 802 musicians and other Broadway artists who served long tenures on Broadway. John Moses was honored for serving over 50 years on Broadway, and many other Local 802 musicians were also praised.
In 2016 we negotiated a successor agreement with Radio City Music Hall, a three-year deal with increases of 2 percent in the first year and 3 percent in years two and three. Our biggest gain in the agreement was an increase in health benefits for non-pool musicians, which will ensure that eligibility for health care can be maintained.
In 2016, at least four films recorded in New York utilizing union contracts, including “The Girl on the Train,” “A Dog’s Purpose” (using a 70-person orchestra!), “Keeping Up with the Joneses,” and “The Seagull.”
In 2016, we rebooted and renamed our Music Referral Service, which will soon be available at www.NewYorkMusicians.com.
In 2016, musicians endured strikes at the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra, all of which ended in settlements.
In 2016, Allegro was voted first place for general excellence in New York City, and second in the entire country, in this year’s annual labor journalism contests sponsored by the International Labor Communications Association and its New York affiliate. We should be proud of all the work we do at Local 802 and proud of how we communicate our message. Congratulations to all.
Finally in 2016, we said our last goodbyes to so many wonderful musicians and union leaders who passed away, including Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Pierre Boulez, Bob Cranshaw, Jack Feierman, Alan Gordon, Ronald Gould, Joseph Manso, Kurt Masur, Alex Giraldo, Jack F. Lee, Steve Tarshis, Moe Wechsler, Joe Cabot, Jimmy Gemus, J. Leonard Oxley, Stephen Sprague, Joseph Muro, Joseph Shepley, Marty Laster, Kate Light, Joseph Temperley, Con Astone, Fred Hellerman, Derek Smith, Christopher Miele, Gabriel Banat, Oscar Brand, Bill Scribner, Moe Synder and Sherman Frank.
As you can see from the list above, Local 802 fought hard for your interests in 2016 and we will continue to represent you to the best our ability. Here are a few more items of new business that we recently wrapped up:
- We paid tribute to our departed friend Bob Cranshaw in the previous issue of Allegro. The Executive Board is currently working hard to find a candidate to take his place. In other Executive Board news, we are saddened that Gail Kruvand has announced her resignation from the board as of Jan. 30. As an active member of the freelance community since 1979, Gail has worked all over New York and has been an elected member of the Executive Board since 2009. She is a graduate of Cornell University Union Leadership Institute and completed a certificate in labor relations from CUNY in 2015. We thank Gail for her years of service on the Executive Board and wish her the best.
- The AFM recently negotiated the successor agreement covering Pamphlet B Touring Theatrical Musicals. The new contract offers fair wage increases and addresses some quality of life issues for the grueling travel schedule those musicians must endure. Details will be available once the bargaining unit ratifies the agreement.
- The Local 802 Executive Board has voted to promulgate the new Public Service rates. Wages were increased by 2 percent across the board. This scale applies when members perform shows that are free and open to the public, including shows funded by the Music Performance Trust Fund. To apply for MPTF funding for your public performances, contact Marisa Friedman at (212) 245-4802, ext. 130 or Mfriedman@Local802afm.org.
- Believe it or not, it’s been two years since we signed off on the current contract covering musicians at the Metropolitan Opera. The contract is up in 2018, and we’re starting our preparations for negotiations. We continue to work with the independent financial advisor Eugene Keilin and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services Director, Allison Beck.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
We hope you have a happy, healthy and joyous New Year. We’re ready for 2017 no matter what it may bring. By working together and staying united, we will continue to make progress on behalf of musicians and all New Yorkers. Join us and get involved! Have a great year.