Weathering the Storm

Financial Vice-President's Report

Volume CIX, No. 6June, 2009

Jay Blumenthal

As the recession continues to maintain a tenacious grip on the economy, I am happy to report that year-end numbers for Local 802 indicated a significant surplus. We ended 2008 in the black by $477,000.

There are several reasons for the surplus. Income from Lincoln Center, recording, Broadway and single engagement concerts held up well through the end of the year. Additionally, we are managing our expenses and doing everything possible to keep them under control.

Unfortunately, income from investments was and remains down due to microscopic interest rates. However, we have not incurred the kind of losses many have experienced over the last several months — no Madoff investments here!

Year-end holiday theatre and concert attendees helped to keep shows open, concerts happening and — consequently — musicians working.

Now that the holidays are over, there are fewer musicals on Broadway and in some cases, freelance orchestra concerts are using fewer musicians — or being canceled altogether.

Musicians are feeling the effects. While always a top priority, work preservation becomes crucial during these very difficult economic cycles.

Of course Local 802 is not immune to the faltering national economy. Any downturn in work translates into diminishing work dues for the union. In February and March of this year the local began to feel the effects of decreased employment for our members. This has translated into less overall income for the local compared to what had been budgeted. This raised concerns immediately. We have taken steps to reduce some staff positions in areas where work had diminished in an effort to reduce expenses as a response to reduced income. Unfortunately, this may not be enough, but time will tell.

While it may seem antithetical during the worst economic downturn many of us have ever witnessed, we remain committed to preparing for any eventual strike by bolstering the Strike Fund to meaningful levels. Recently we transferred $1,546,035 into the Strike Fund. This brings the fund to over $2 million, which will help to provide much needed support in the event a future strike becomes necessary. The union makes every effort to avoid work stoppages but it is somewhat comforting to know that should a confrontation result in a strike, we have set aside appropriate financial resources.

The computer software projects for both the Health Benefits Plan and Local 802 remain on track. These are comprehensive projects that are quantum leaps forward from our current stone age system.

  • The target date for delivery of the Health Benefits software is late May, with testing in June and an expected rollout in July or August.
  • The local’s software is expected to arrive by late September, with testing in October and a rollout in November or December.

The eventual result will be an efficient and reliable computer software system that can support the needs of the local well into the future. The new software will be user friendly and will eventually allow members access to some of their personal information as well as the ability to conduct some transactions via the Internet. I am confident we are developing software which will not only improve communications between HBP and the local but also between the local and our membership. 

March 31, 2009 was the deadline for national unions (including the AFM), regional conferences and locals to submit their Labor-Management report to the Department of Labor. Local 802 files an LM-2 report. Please take the opportunity to visit the DOL Web site where you will find these reports. There is a great deal of information contained in the reports and I expect you will find them very interesting reading indeed.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.