Dear colleagues and friends,
I'm highly honored to have the opportunity to serve as President of your South Florida Musicians Association! First, I'd like to extend my deep and sincere thanks to our out-going officers, President Jay Bertolet, Vice-president Dan Satterwhite, and Executive Board Director Doug Michels, for their dedicated and steadfast service to our organization over the past three years. We will greatly miss them all, and I know we all wish them the very best. I also want to thank our other Executive Board Directors, Iris Van Eck, Karen Dixon, Elizabeth Aron, and Carey Kleiman for their loyalty, service, and friendship, and also congratulate Iris as she becomes the new Vice-president. Last, but far from least, my enduring gratitude goes to our intrepid Secretary-Treasurer, Jeffrey Apana, without whose 20 years of dedication, savvy, and passion this Local would not exist. I greatly look forward to working with Jeff and Iris and the other new and returning board members over the next three years.
I won't bore you with a long-winded load of boiler-plate platitudes, but I would like to offer you just a brief outline of my relationship with Local 655 and some of the areas I hope to address as I assume this office. Many of you know me as a trumpeter and composer, and have played alongside me for many years. I joined the Union as a lad of 15, when I was the tympanist (yes, that was my first instrument!) with the old Miami Beach Symphony, of which my late father, violinist Alan Reskin, was one of the founders and also a Local 655 life member. I remember the intense pride I felt upon getting my first Union card -"wow, I'm a real musician now!" Fifty-odd years and thousands of gigs later, I still feel the sense of joy and pride in being a part of this amazing profession. With all its ups and downs, I still wouldn't have it any other way! By and large, musicians are great people, and I'm honored to work beside them.
Now as we make our way in this increasingly complex and daunting world, we need to keep a few vital thoughts in mind. First, we all know that the Union is here for several basic reasons: first, to set the scales to assure our members (and by extension, all musicians) of a fair and equitable wage package for their services; second, to provide recourse for any musician who has been subjected to unfair or improper treatment by their employer; third, to monitor the various local musical organizations to make sure they provide a safe, comfortable and stress-free working environment. We also take part in contract negotiations, audition procedures, and disputes of various kinds. When necessary, the Union will litigate against those organizations which violate their contracts or commit other transgressions against our members.
We all know that the world has changed since the "old days", and that the Union alone can't bring them back. We have increasing competition from electronic media, DJ's, and musicians who will work for peanuts just to get a gig. So, as I see it, our main mission is to get the word out that only through solidarity and strength-in-numbers will we be able to bring fairness back into the music scene. "Union" means precisely that. I believe we must fight for what we believe, but also give credit to those employers who show a sense of decency and fairness to their musicians. One of my goals as President will be to build better bridges of communication between our Union and the various local arts organizations and musical employers, including not just orchestras and bands, but also TV, recording outlets, clubs, etc. It is also crucial, in my opinion, to strive to increase our membership. Let's dream up new and interesting ways to attract musicians, especially the young and emerging players. I'd like to see our Union participate in more public events around the South Florida area, so we can increase public awareness of our role and mission. I'd like to make the public more aware of what we musicians do; how we prepare, practice, teach, deal with messed-up gig situations, daily I-95 traffic, etc., so they get a better understanding of what it's really like being us. I'd like to demolish the stereotypes some folks have of musicians as being lazy, snobbish, and self-absorbed. We want to be perceived as we are: regular people with families and mortgages and the same set of concerns as everyone else. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
In closing, I want to assure you that my door, literally and digitally, is open to all of you. I hope you will communicate your ideas and concerns to us, and we urge you to take as active a role as you can with your Local. We hold membership meetings regularly, and we hope to see many of you there so we can address your issues and ideas. Let's make it a UNION in every sense of the word!
Meanwhile, I want to wish you all a deliriously happy holiday season, whatever you celebrate, and a safe and Happy New Year!
All best wishes,