In a bid to win pension benefits for jazz artists, the musicians’ union for New York City has begun an advertising campaign and plans to expand their protest outside jazz clubs. The union, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians has started distributing leaflets outside Blue Note in Greenwich Village in December saying that owners of club have gone back on their word where they promised to begin pension benefits to jazz musicians in return for a sales tax break.
On Thursday evening, the union plans to expand the leaflet campaign to five prominent jazz clubs namely Jazz Standard, Village Vanguard, Birdland, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola and Village Vanguard. The union is also advertising in jazz publications to draw attention to the misery of elderly jazz musicians who are devoid of pension benefits.
Meanwhile club owners have opposed the efforts of the union to force them to pay pension funds for years. Some of the owners say it the liability of the band leaders to pay pension benefits rather than club owners. They point out that it will be very much costly and impractical for owners to write a pension check for each and every musician who plays at a major jazz club. The campaign of the union is supported by several jazz artists such as Ron Carter, Bernard Purdie and Bucky Pizzarelli.