In Tuesday’s (12/13) New York Times, James C. McKinley Jr. writes, “New York City’s musicians’ union has begun leafleting outside a major jazz club, the first salvo in what union leaders say is a campaign to gain pension benefits and a minimum wage for jazz artists. The campaign began quietly last Thursday night, when four members of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians stood in the cold outside the Blue Note in Greenwich Village and handed out leaflets with the headline ‘Justice for Jazz Artists!’ Musicians continued passing out information outside the Blue Note over the weekend and said they would do so again starting on Thursday. … For five years club owners have resisted the union’s efforts and remain divided about the idea. Some accuse the 8,000-member union of trolling for new revenue to prop up the pension fund, whose main beneficiaries are mostly retired Broadway musicians, studio session players and classical musicians who are covered by union contracts. Though some jazz artists belong to the union, they generally work in nonunion clubs. Consequently they have for decades received less pay and fewer benefits than union musicians.”

December 14, 2011