Adam is running for President of Local 802 to build a stronger union for all its members.
I have been a musician in New York and member of 802 for the past 11 years and, like many of you, I am increasingly concerned about the state of our union. Signs of trouble are not hard to find, from a significant decline in union membership, less and less work under union contract, a pension fund in crisis or a younger generation of musicians who see no value in joining our union. I believe that all of us—from the new generation of musicians coming up to long-time veterans—deserve a future in which our union is strengthened and our future protected. I have made the hard decision to put on hold my active playing career, dedicate my time to rebuilding the strength of this union, and run for President of Local 802.
I studied at Curtis and Yale and, since 2007, have performed a wide variety of music, including Broadway shows, chamber music, and subbing in major orchestras. Currently, I perform in the Broadway show Frozen.
For a long time, I wanted to believe that our union leadership was simply doing the best they could during challenging times. Sadly, I have been proven wrong. But I think we can do better.
In December 2016, like all of you, I received a mailing from the AFM-EPF informing me that my pension was no longer secure but gave us no plan to right the ship. In early 2017, I became frustrated and disappointed when 802 officials refused to provide thoughtful leadership on this critical issue, preferring instead to stick to the talking points provided to them by the trustees. I saw a void in leadership, and so, along with other concerned union members, I helped form Musicians for Pension Security. As Executive Director of MPS, I have dedicated hundreds of hours of my personal unpaid time overseeing a significant effort to secure our financial futures.
MPS is now a national organization that reaches over 20,000 musicians across the United States. We harnessed the power of that national network when we organized a successful grass roots campaign to pressure our trustees into supporting the Butch Lewis Act. We have also hired some of the best pension experts in the country and published over 45 articles covering pension policy, analysis of the AFM-EPF, legislation and grass roots organizing in order to help educate, inform, and support our fellow musicians. With hard work and the help of our experts, we formulated the MPS Action Plan, which was rolled out to a capacity crowd in NYC in April and has been streamed over 4,000 times by musicians around the country. We continue to engage politically, connecting with the staffs of United States Senators Sherrod Brown, Rob Portman, Lamar Alexander and many others to work to pass legislation in hopes of finding solutions to the problems at our pension fund.
In founding MPS, my hope was that the pension trustees and union leadership would welcome this activism and work together with us to find creative solutions to our pension crisis. But the reaction from our leadership has been consistently hostile. This has been in stark contrast to the overwhelming support that we have received from fellow musicians in New York and across the country. There is a troubling disconnect between the union leadership and the musicians they were elected to represent. This past spring, we saw similar dynamics at play in the wave of grassroots teacher-led actions around the country in West Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky and Oklahoma. There, rank and file teachers took matters into their own hands after enduring years of weak union leadership.
We can do the same at 802. Amazingly, the current administration offers no proactive, forward-thinking and long-term strategies to address the challenges we face. Membership is down, expenses are up, and revenues are flatlining. Musicians have always adapted to the ever-changing and ultra-competitive job market to survive and be successful—and we should expect the same of the organization that represents us. But our union does not possess this ability to change with the times. 802 is antiquated and out of touch. The current administration has been in power for 9 years and seeks a fourth term. The time has come for change.
With your vote, I, along with my fellow 802 Musicians for Change (MFC) will provide the kind of strong, creative, transparent and accountable leadership needed to create positive change at Local 802 and strengthen our union for years to come. The mission of 802 Musicians for Change is to build a more secure future for all its members. Everyone running on the 802 MFC ticket shares this vision and is dedicated to working hard for a better future. Please join us in our effort to serve our fellow musicians and push for positive change at Local 802. I ask for your support and your vote on December 4th. I am honored to lead 802 Musicians for Change and would be honored to serve as your next President of Local 802.