The American Federation of Musicians' Greater New York chapter is trying to get famed restaurateur Danny Meyer to face the music and start contributing to the union's pension plan.
A six-piece jazz band performed in Madison Square Park on Aug. 7 while members of Local 802 of the AFM handed out leaflets to raise awareness of its campaign — Justice for Jazz Artists — to establish union benefits for musicians in New York. The campaign is calling on Mr. Meyer, who owns the Jazz Standard nightclub, to sit down with members of the musicians' union and discuss steps toward direct contributions to the American Federation of Musicians and Employers' Pension Fund, a minimum-pay scale and a fair-grievance process. The $1.7 billion pension plan is 87% funded.
“It's important for musicians to be getting a pension ... because they do a lot of cash-paying gigs that are off the books,” said John O'Connor, recording vice president of Local 802 in New York. According to Mr. O'Connor, management of the Jazz Standard has not expressed interest in meeting with the union. Jee Won Park, a spokeswoman for Mr. Meyer, did not respond to requests seeking comment by press time.
As part of the demonstration, the band began playing outside the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, then continued playing outside Gramercy Tavern and the Union Square Cafe, all owned by Mr. Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group. This marks the union's third such demonstration in recent months.