After nine years working for this Local, the last seven of those years as President, I am resigning from office, effective May 31, 2015. I am resigning mid-term (our next election is May 2016), and as per our by-laws, our current Vice President, Steve Pearson, will become President as of June 1, 2015.
This job has been many different things to me. At times it has been frustrating, hard work. It has required long hours, and taken me many places, both geographically, and emotionally. We fought some good fights, won some, lost some. I’d like to think that even in our losses, we actually won in some fashion, because we were fighting for Musicians’ rights and livelihoods.
At times, this job has been unbelievably rewarding, and overall, it has been fulfilling to know that I was showing up to work every day, on behalf of the well-being of my fellow musicians.
While I was President, I learned a lot about the Union Business, a lot more about musicians from a different perspective, and a ton more about myself. One of the things I learned about myself is that after 7 years and a few months, it is time for me to step down, decompress, and return to my music.
Even though we are a small organization, as President, I grew to know a different meaning for that overused cliché, “It’s lonely at the top.” I knew that phrase as more of a cynical idiom, alluding to rarified air, yes men, and a sarcastic message of “poor you, you’re at the top of the food chain.” The reality of that phrase is that it’s lonely because the responsibility is ultimately yours. Even in a democratic organization such as ours, there are decisions and judgments to make that most of the people around you consider somebody else’s problem. That’s the loneliness. This “somebody else’s problem” becomes at times yours alone, yet it can affect the entire membership, and is therefore, everybody’s problem.
It comes with the territory, but feeling isolated in this office has reached an all-time high (or low depending on your point of view) because such a small number of people out of our total membership are involved. The Union is a democratic organization. It was started by musicians, was — and still is– run by musicians. From the beginning, the work was union because the musicians made the gigs union. Somehow, that concept for the most part became muddled, and it is now commonplace for a member to say “You know what you guys should do…” followed by a suggestion, followed by a hasty exit. A member of the same group saying “You guys.” What is that? It’s a disconnect. What about: “You know what we should do…” followed by some collective action? We are all members of the same club. We are all in this together.
I have the utmost confidence that our new President Pearson is coming along at the right time to take our union to a new level, but he can’t do it alone. He’s got some great ideas, and some great new energy. Please help him to improve our organization. Please help him to help us, the musicians of this state. If he asks you to serve on a committee, give it a try. If you have a chance to make a gig union, do it. Ask what you can do to help preserve the building.
I’ve seen quite a few Facebook threads over the last few years, where musicians, union and non-union, are unhappy with the pay and working conditions around town. In every one of those threads, at least one person has said something about banding together, starting a group to fight this. That’s what the Union is for. A group dedicated to the betterment of musicians’ livelihoods is already in existence, and we own real estate with rehearsal rooms and a performance/recording space to boot. Get involved. We’re musicians, we’re the best people I know, and we deserve the best.
There’s another overused cliché that I have learned to know in a different, a more heartfelt and real way. After having worked here for the last nine years, this now rings true for me.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the President of Local 677.
I thank you all, and I wish us all well.