NEW LEADERS. NEW DIRECTION.
Open Letter and Endorsement from
Steve Behnke, Founder of Patriot Brass
I am the founder of a non-profit organization called Patriot Brass Ensemble and I am writing to announce my wholehearted support for Adam Krauthamer and the entire Musicians for Change slate.
Patriot Brass has grown to include over three hundred performances a year in almost two dozen cities annually. We are the leading provider of pro marching bands and our mission is to bring high quality music to enhance the lives of veterans in long term care.
Earlier this year, Patriot Brass Ensemble signed a collective bargaining agreement with Local 802, bringing over 75 new members into the union.
In the past few weeks, I have heard the Gagliardi administration take credit for bringing Patriot Brass into Local 802. I didn’t even know who Tino Gagliardi was until this election.
Here’s what the members of 802 need to know about Patriot Brass joining Local 802:
I approached 802, they didn’t approach me.
I only did so to be able to contribute dollars to stay on our health care plan.
It took almost an entire year for 802 to draft a 6-page CBA.
Tino Gagliardi never once reached out to me, and to this day I have never met or spoken with him.
Let me repeat that: I have never met or communicated in any way with Tino Gagliardi and as far as I know, I brought in more new members than anyone else in 2018. Maybe he would use the excuse that his door is open, and he would love to meet with me, but that is not leadership and is the problem with the current administration. Leadership is not waiting for members to come to you, it is reaching out to them and learning about what they need. They cannot complain about dwindling membership if their policy is waiting for members to come to them.
My experience with Local 802 had always been from a distance. My wife, horn player Audrey Flores, has almost exclusively done Local 802 signatory work for the past decade. We have struggled as a family to stay on our health care plan. Most of the time we were making plan A, other times we got as close as $50 away from the Plan A minimum but lost our coverage completely. We later found out we could have used something called an LS-1 since Audrey had three regular private students at the time. Even after we begged and talked to multiple people at Local 802 no one had given us this option: this cost us thousands of dollars and we scrambled to find coverage for our newborn baby. This lapse happened because my wife tried to take two weeks off from playing shows for her maternity, far less than should be acceptable in any part of our society. Even when our second child was born, Audrey actually ran to a show from the hospital, missing her chance to take our daughter home for the first time because we needed to make sure we were on plan A.
In desperation, I walked into Local 802 so I too could contribute to our health care dollars and we could have some stability for our children. While the people I worked with at Local 802 really do care about musicians, it took almost a whole year and something like a dozen visits to negotiate a six-page CBA. They were fair and reasonable in every aspect of the whole process of the negotiations. The problem is that their methods are dated and antiquated. I only brought my group to Local 802 in desperation for my family and for the many musicians who perform with the Patriot Brass Ensemble who were exhausted from being on and off plan A. This is unacceptable, and it should not take a year to sign an original CBA.
When Adam Krauthamer contacted me over the summer, well in advance of any campaign announcement and wanted to discuss Musicians for Change, I was delighted. He was the first person to ever reach out to me besides the wonderful person behind Allegro. Adam and I had an honest conversation for two plus hours, and I felt like he really heard my experience and those of my musicians in Patriot Brass. All I know about Tino is he never reached out to me and his name had never come up until this election.
The reason I am endorsing Adam and his whole ticket at Musicians for Change is because they are open to new ideas and want to modernize 802. MFC is different because they are also going to fight for the rights of subs and musicians who only are able to make part of their professional income in Local 802, not just chair holders. These are the musicians I have spent hundreds of hours with and was lucky enough to share the essence of those experiences with someone who is as good a listener as Adam. Not only is Adam’s door open but he reached out to me to learn about my musicians: that is what a vote for Musicians for Change means.
I urge you to vote for this wonderful ticket on December 4th: this is the leadership we need.