Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Coattail Politics

The landslide victory of the Members Party in New York's Local 802 elections represented the latest in a series of blows to Tom Lee's status quo. But at their inaugural ceremony, these new officers will be sworn in by none other than Tom Lee.

Lee knows his politics and is aware that his survival is in the balance. He will use the swearing-in ceremony as he uses all such opportunities: to charm potential adversaries and solidify support. Even though new Local 802 officers were elected on a platform of change and progress past the divisions and stagnation of Tom Lee's nine years in power, Tom Lee will claim that he is on their side. He is a master in the art of coattail politics.

Take, for example, an article in the September 2008 International Musician. The headline reads

"The AFM Reaches Agreement for Musicians on Wonder Pets!"

But read carefully, and you'll see that it was Local 802 which negotiated the agreement. This piece from Allegro by Fred Barton, explaining the deal in detail, makes no mention whatsoever of participation by Tom Lee, the AFM, or the IEB.

Tom Lee is ready and willing to misappropriate the achievements of others to justify the failure of his nine years in power. The question is, when will we stop believing him?


Anonymous said...

Fred Barton's Allegro article fails to point out that a majority of the "Wonderpets" musicians were very dissatisfied with the (now out of office) Landolfi Administration's handling of the contract. See a May letter in the Allegro "Musicians Voice" column below:

To the Editor:

Both Mikael Elsila and Fred Barton’s “Wonder Pets!” articles in the April issue are entirely misleading to Allegro readers. Perhaps the union is more concerned with its political and P.R. success in achieving ANY agreement than actually crafting an agreement that fully serves the rank and file.

The agreement negotiated for “WonderPets!” does not represent the wishes of the great majority of the bargaining unit in any way. Fred Barton’s lengthy article (in the space afforded him by the editorial board), states that the Local 802 “negotiating team spent countless hours with us discussing the possibilities and listening to our concerns.” All of these meetings with the bargaining unit failed to accomplish what was needed, since once negotiations began, the bargaining unit was not allowed to sit in on any negotiations nor to comment on ongoing negotiations by being present in a room next door. We were not consulted on any terms of the agreement until we were asked to ratify a first draft, which, at the time of our ratification, had not even been reviewed by the employer.

Our union administration is supposed to guide and assist the rank and file in a negotiation. Had we not been shut out and had we been allowed to participate in the negotiations, much of our discontent could have been avoided.

The 11 names signed below are all Local 802 musicians who comprise a majority of the 17-member “Wonder Pets!” bargaining unit. The article in Allegro’s April issue, “Working Together, We Win,” grossly misrepresents the size of the bargaining unit as 45 musicians.

Richard Brice, Tom Sevkovic, Helen Campo,
David Siegel, George Flynn, Michael Starobin,
Ned Paul Ginsburg, Paul Raiman, Leo Grinhaus,
Ellen Katz Willner and Jim Mironchi

Ed Shamgochian said...

Thank you for your candid comment.

The Barton article in Allegro was used to illustrate Tom Lee's brand of coattail politics.

I had heard of the Landolfi Administration's complete shut-out of the wishes of the majority of the bargaining unit, and your point is well taken.

Lee's Administration used the same shut-out technique on members, who are now plaintiffs in two costly lawsuits.

The members of Local 802 were able to vote out an administration that did not listen to its members' objections. Voting out Lee's Administration is the next challenge.