In this issue we’re going to take a look at one of the most insidious forms of injustice for our musicians: age discrimination. When musicians aren’t hired because clients believe they’re “too old,” it really hurts. It’s especially painful because the reality is that, after a lifetime of practice and performance, very often the older we are, the better we are. Older musicians have the chops, the stamina, the work ethic and the dependability that enlightened employers need. Unfortunately, fighting age discrimination can be complicated. In this issue, our lawyer Harvey Mars outlines some of the things that can be done legally. And you really don’t want to miss musicians’ own stories of age discrimination. Our initial hope in bringing up this topic is to get a conversation going. Please join in.
For our musicians who are about to turn 65, there is at least one benefit of getting to that milestone: free health care. But how free is Medicare? Local 802 member and Broadway musician Martha Hyde offers an excellent, detailed introduction to Medicare. Martha is also a trustee of the union’s own health plan.
Also, as you can see in our photo spread in this issue, retired musicians are at the top of their game. The Local 802 Senior Concert Orchestra recently gave its annual performance at Symphony Space. This year, Stanley Drucker performed in the ensemble. As most of you are aware, Stanley played clarinet in the New York Philharmonic for a record-breaking 60 years. The Senior Concert Orchestra is another example of how musicians continue to hone their craft as they get older.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
February is Black History Month, and in this issue, we’re pleased to present a history of black musicians within Local 802. This article was part of a master’s thesis written by a former intern of ours named Jacob Goldberg. (Local 802 has such a rich history that we get many requests from scholars and other researchers to go through our archives.) In his article, Jacob recounts the fact that the New York musicians’ union was one of the few musicians’ locals – and one of the few unions in general – that didn’t have an official segregation policy.
Also, John O’Connor talks about how our Justice for Jazz Artists campaign fits into African-Americans’ larger struggle for equality and fairness. John says that we can learn from the Civil Rights Movement as we plan stronger actions to convince jazz club owners to do the right thing. Those actions might include civil disobedience and more. And that’s an excellent reminder that this year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rosa Parks. In this article, we look at what Rosa Parks can still teach us today.
Finally, you’ll see in this issue that jazz reps recently brought our campaign’s message to the owner of the Village Vanguard jazz club, Lorraine Gordon. Unfortunately, Ms. Gordon has not returned our calls and has not entered into a dialogue with us about paying pensions for the musicians who play in her club.
Tax time is around the corner. Here you’ll find some tax tips for musicians. Also, for those who were following the fiscal cliff negotiations in December, the good news is that charitable tax giving incentives were not specifically capped and no changes were made to the exempt status or classification of charities, such as nonprofit arts organizations. While no changes have been made in this first round of fiscal cliff negotiations, tax reform revenue raises are still on the table as Congress and the White House negotiate measures to stave off deep sequestration cuts in the next two months. (This information was kindly provided to us by our friends at Americans for the Arts.)
We are now in the process of completely revamping the Web site of the Local 802 referral service. The referral service is the department through which we refer participating members to individuals and organizations who call the union looking to hire musicians for a gig. As part of the new design, we will feature videos of various bands so that potential clients can shop for bands online. We have already started filming some of our bands.
TRIP TO LONDON
As I am also reporting in the International Musician, this coming March I will be traveling to London to meet with officials of the British Musicians’ Union to discuss theatre and other issues. Last year, representatives of British Musicians’ Union (now called the Musicians Union or MU) met in New York to discuss our common issues regarding theatre as an industry. Also in attendance at that meeting was Jim Biros, the executive director of AFM Local 149 (Toronto). We discussed such things as the make-up of our respective employer organizations and the structure of our particular agreements.
It was a hugely beneficial event for all parties because it initiated a level of communication and collaboration that had never been attained before. The event included meetings at Local 802, where we discussed contract negotiations and compared our Broadway agreement with the MU’s contract that covers London’s West End. We also enjoyed a visit with the Broadway Theatre Committee. Jim Biros’ perspective from Toronto was a helpful addition to the mix on account of the large number of shows that travel from London directly to Toronto on their way to Broadway. It ended with all of us attending a Broadway show to experience firsthand the talent and skills of the musicians in our pits.
Now it is our turn. Once again, Jim Biros and I will be meeting with the same representatives of the MU. This time our colleagues in London will be hosting the meetings, giving us an opportunity to visit with members of the MU’s administration as well as with the musicians who fill the pits in London’s West End theatres.
February and March are going to be busy months for me both as a member of the AFM’s Executive Committee as well as president of Local 802.
First will be a trip to Montreal along with AFM President Ray Hair. We will meet with officers of AFM Local 406 to prepare for negotiations with Cirque du Soleil over its touring agreement. (We are still waiting for confirmation of meetings with Cirque management.)
This quarter’s International Executive Board meeting will be held in conjunction with the Western Conference of Musicians in Portland, Oregon. This will be a busy conference that will include a continuation of the AFM and Local 802’s joint organizing summit hosted by Recording Vice President John O’Connor.
Next will be a trip to Los Angeles as we continue to negotiate the Basic Theatrical Motion Picture and Television Film Labor Agreement. This will be a week-long schedule of meetings that will hopefully bring the AFM and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers closer to reaching an accord over the scoring of television film and motion pictures.
This spate of travel will be concluded with the trip to London I mentioned above. It may seem like a lot of traveling, but it is all worthwhile. It remains so important that both the AFM and Local 802 do all they can to work together in promoting the best interests of the professional musicians of our union.
We recently achieved new collective bargaining agreements with the Irish Repertory Theatre and with producers for the production of “Naked Boys Singing.” As always, anytime you are called to play in musical theatre of any kind – including shows, readings or workshops – call us. We have a great track record in obtaining union contracts and getting you the pay and benefits you deserve. Contact Claudia Copeland at (212) 245-4802, ext. 158.
We have negotiations in progress with the New York City Ballet. Because we have had only a few meetings, there is not a lot to report at this time. The tenor of the talks has been professional and courteous.
Recently the New York City Opera presented its winter gala. NYCO management initially chose to ignore the union and was not going to pay pension and health to musicians. However, after we objected and began to organize a demonstration, we were ultimately able to reach an agreement. Local 802 thanks NYCO management for doing the right thing and paying the musicians the benefits that they work so hard for and deserve.
The AFM Television and Radio Commercial Announcements Agreement (the jingle contract) was extended for one year. This extension, which included an increase in pension contributions, will allow the AFM, participating locals and industry representatives to take an in-depth look at the direction of the industry so that we may better address the problems facing our members. Local 802 will be hosting a meeting with key members working under this agreement to discuss some of the recent negative trends and how to address them.
AUDITIONS ON BROADWAY? WATCH OUT!
It has come to the attention of the Theatre Department that some members are being asked to audition for theatrical productions on Broadway. Auditions are not allowed on Broadway without the full cooperation and notification of the Local 802 Executive Board. If you are asked to audition for any position on a Broadway show, contact the union immediately. Auditions have only been allowed in the past under very special circumstances after approval of the Local 802 Executive Board and only if the appropriate wages, including pension and health benefit contributions, are made to the musicians involved. Feel free to contact my office or any member of the Theatre Department and let us know if you are asked to audition. Your anonymity and confidence will always be respected and ensured. Call (212) 245-4802 and ask for the president’s office or the Theatre Department.