We Can Do It!

Financial Vice President's Report

Volume 118, No. 12December, 2018

Tom Olcott

Tom Olcott is the financial vice president of Local 802, and the supervisor of the union’s concert department.

The U.S. midterms gave New Yorkers a dash of hope as we look forward to the new year. Now it’s up to us…

After absorbing the results of this year’s U.S. midterm elections, one thing should be transparently clear: whenever you have the right to vote on anything, it is imperative that you exercise that right. The results of the midterms are going to impact Local 802’s ability to maintain the integrity of our work and reach out to even more deserving and striving musicians.

Here in New York, the “blue wave” had a deeper effect at the state level than at the city level. New York City is, admittedly, already a pretty blue place. However, now that we have a “bluer” state senate, we can hope for a more labor-friendly state government, including a state senate that might actually act in ways that are beneficial to all New Yorkers, including our members. Infrastructure funding, MTA improvement and climate change activism – among many other deep societal concerns – might truly be on the table.

Also, the election of New York State Attorney General Letitia James should raise optimism about stricter enforcement of New York employment law provisions that specifically designate musicians as employees. Prior to her election, Ms. James’ office was already examining potential improprieties within the Trump organization. We can only assume that those inquiries will proceed, perhaps even with heightened vigor. Local 802, with its recently gained influence at both the local and state political level, will keep a close eye on these and other developments that affect our members.

Aside from these larger concerns, I can report a few more items closer to home.

For starters, the Local 802 Concert Department concluded negotiations with the American Composers Orchestra in late October. ACO management chose to accept the AFM Integrated Media Agreement.

We are in continuing contract renewal discussions with the American Symphony Orchestra, New York Pops, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and several other ensembles. Each group has its own needs. The Concert Department, in continuing contact with each orchestra’s representative committee, always seeks to preserve and enhance those existing agreements.

I would just like to add a few more cents on larger political concerns.

  1. Community matters. As musicians and as union members, we need to present our artistic product as an energizing driver of local cultural and social life. If we make that pitch, our art can thrive. That pitch requires effort, belief and total conviction. We can do that!
  2. Schools matter. A committed community of musicians can communicate our message to students, young and old. We can help them to aspire to a richer and perhaps more enlightened life. Our responsibility in that task requires true commitment of intellect, engagement, communication and dedication of time and resources. We can spread our culture and help students understand and embrace it. That effort will enrich their lives. It could very well enrich our lives as well, as we describe our experiences to others. We can do that!
  3. Political activism matters. Community support requires political support. Talk to representatives. Talk to school boards. We can do that too!

Why do all this? Because it all matters. Local 802 and its members can be at the forefront of the initiatives above and many others that need citizen commitment, community involvement and political support. We can be that unified community, the one that supports artistic integrity, the one that invites all to participate, and the one that seeks societal unity through shared values. This goes way beyond being a good player. This needs to be a movement. We can do that!


One of my duties as financial vice president is to report twice a year on the union’s finances. Our latest audited report appears in printed issue of Allegro on page 41. It covers the period Jan. 1, 2018 to June 30, 2018, and as always, you should think of this as a short-term snapshot, not a long-term forecast.

While the numbers speak their own truth, it is also important to consider them in the context of the budgeting process. Every year, the Local 802 officers and the controller meet several times to create the budget. That process considers many factors. Our most important concerns are: 1) our best assessment of the state of the music business and the flow of membership and work dues revenues; 2) recognition of future costs (upcoming negotiations, organizing campaigns, public relations and legal needs, building maintenance, etc.); and 3) close observation of the accuracy of our past budgeting results. The primary goal is always to ensure that Local 802 members’ money is spent responsibly and advances our established contracts, our organizing goals and our political presence. Above all, our goal is to conserve our overall resources.

Controller Cathy Camiolo’s article details the numbers. We experienced a larger than anticipated unrealized loss on investments and a slight reduction in work dues, each contributing to a loss in unrestricted net assets of $247,340. However, a close reading of the tables in Note 9 show an overall gain in investment values for the first half of 2018.

Our bottom line shows Local 802 to be in a stable economic state – subject, as is everyone, to a variety of market fluctuations. Local 802 can never immunize itself from larger macroeconomic developments, but we also are positioned to maintain stability as those developments play out.