December 24, 2012
By Stephanie West
NEW YORK, NY—After winning a second term in the union’s first uncontested election since 1990, Local 802 AFM President Tino Gagliardi, Recording Vice President John O’Connor and Financial Vice President Tom Olcott expressed gratitude for membership’s confidence in their leadership.
The officers vowed to continue working to improve the lives of professional musicians who are key to the city’s cultural economy, and to demand that arts institutions respect their audiences by championing the superior live music experience ticket-buyers expect and deserve.
That means keeping Broadway pit orchestras and orchestras for ballet and other dance genres robust and live rather than substituting canned music, paying musicians a living wage that allows them to afford to remain in New York, and offering benefits that keep NYC arts organizations competitive in the talent market. Over the past three years, Gagliardi and his team have increased membership and brought the union into the modern age, launching a redesigned website and embracing social media as part of its communication strategy. They believe firmly in including rank-and-file musicians in negotiations of their contracts and have made it a priority to strengthen the union as a cohesive community of artists, capable of making a big noise to protest unfair compensation or work rules.
The unions impressive list of victories include: The Lincoln Center Agreements which avoided cuts to pension benefits at a time when cuts are commonplace in the symphonic world. The landmark agreement with the Winter Jazz/Undead Festival which improved working conditions for musicians who play these popular festivals. A Master Club Date agreement covering dozens of Off Broadway productions. In addition Local 802 launched several successful initiatives including: Save Live Music on Broadway, Justice for Jazz Artists Campaign, The
“Live Music in Hotels” campaign, and Fighting “Canned” Ballet at Lincoln Center.
“We consider ourselves a guild. We’re on the side of the real aesthetic of musical expression—
the magic of live people producing live music,” said Local 802 President Tino Gagliardi.
“As much as the forces of greed will try to defeat us, audiences understand the emotional and spiritual power of live music.
Our job is to advocate for audiences as much as for ourselves. The more we do this, the more we will prevail.”