My name is Elise Frawley and I am seeking an opportunity to serve as a member of the Executive Board for the constituents of Local 802. As a violist, I have been a member since 2011, however my connection to Local 802 has endured my entire musical career. I was fortunate to study with members of AFM in public school in Westchester County, learning about issues such as conflict resolution in pit orchestras to the solidarity across locals during the Broadway Strike of 2003. I remained in the New York area, studying at the Manhattan School of Music and New York University. 

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Elise believes we need a new administration that is genuinely committed to work on behalf of all musicians of all backgrounds and stages of their careers

As a freelance musician I work in a variety of settings, from concert halls to television and recording studios under contracts negotiated by the AFM. Additionally, I am a Teaching Artist with Midori & Friends under an AFM contract, and serve on the board of The Chelsea Symphony, a nonprofit self-governed orchestra. I have had the opportunity to witness union negotiations firsthand, most recently participating in the weeklong conference between AFM leaders and attorneys representing national television networks in July 2018.


Should I be elected to the Executive Board, my goal is to facilitate growth and representation within the union by welcoming musicians from all backgrounds and corners of the industry. The turn of the 21st century brought about cultural and technological changes that have drastically altered our industry’s landscape, and unfortunately, the Local 802 has not adapted quickly enough to these shifts. As a result, the union has failed to connect with musicians who thrive in nontraditional and freelance work. These musicians are often emerging in their careers with student debt, little health benefits, and fear that a union pension will be obsolete as they approach retirement. The reality is, these very individuals, with their creative and professional contributions, are critical to maintaining the longevity and solvency of the union and the New York music community as a whole.


Given the opportunity, I will advocate for a union culture that is adaptable to the current challenges we face as professional musicians. Contract negotiations should be thoughtful, realistic, and effective, whether it’s for live performance or recording. The Local 802 website should serve as an accessible and streamlined place for members to learn about contracts, share concerns, and network with one another. I will seek to bring a program like Fair Trade Music into local bars and nightclub venues to ensure that independent artists are adequately protected. I aim to assist contemporary ensembles, who seek to develop and manage their organizations, by providing workshops and resource options for nonprofits. I will push for workplace protections that support parents as they balance the demands of their careers with family life.


We are at a critical juncture as union members. The pension is in crisis, membership is dwindling, and unions across the country are embattled against private industries. In this political climate, fighting for a union can feel like an exercise in futility, however, our action is more important than ever. The union membership needs an administration that is genuinely committed to work on behalf of all musicians of all backgrounds and stages of their careers. This will not only maintain the solvency of the union for current and future generations, but will ensure that New York remains one of the musical capitals of the world.

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