Welcome, Patriot Brass!

Bandleader signs a union contract with Local 802: musicians will enjoy protections, benefits and more

Volume 118, No. 3March, 2018

Almost a year ago, the Organizing Department received a call from an enthusiastic Local 802 member who wanted to see how he could get the work of his ensemble covered by an 802 contract. That member was Steven Behnke, and his group is the Patriot Brass Ensemble, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for veterans and military families through musical programs and services. Over the course of several months, we met to discuss exactly what the work looked like, what were Steven’s goals for the CBA, what were the union’s expectations, and more. We are excited to announce musicians in the Patriot Brass Ensemble are now earning union wages and benefits through a Local 802 contract!

Behnke, who joined Local 802 in 2008, tells us that he sees great value in union benefits. Healthcare, in particular, was a major motivation for him.

The union hopes to be able to work with other members who are bandleaders and employers to create agreements that ensure protections, fair wages and benefits for musicians. We also want to acclimate to a continuously changing work environment that may not be matched with our older, more traditional CBAs. Patriot Brass Ensemble has shown that we can do so. In his story on the opposite page, Behnke expresses the importance of long-term stability with his musicians. A good agreement is mutually beneficial to both employer and employee. It is an incentive to maintain a healthy relationship that will keep the business going and the musicians satisfied with the gig.

Patriot Brass Ensemble is not the first time Local 802 has tailored a CBA to smaller, artist-led ensembles, but there’s more work to be done. Ultimately, Local 802 wants to see musicians paid fairly for their work and treated with respect and dignity. The more work that is covered, the more we can see that mission become a reality.

We are encouraged by this new addition to our list of collective bargaining agreements. Patriot Brass Ensemble will serve as an example that Local 802 is excited and willing to negotiate with non-traditional work arrangements. We want to see musicians taken care of, and as Steven says, the union works for you.

If you would like to know more about creating a unique collective bargaining agreement for your ensemble, please contact me by e-mail. And if you have top-level marching band experience and would like to try out for the Patriot Brass Ensemble, send your resume to