Monday, the Associated Musicians of Greater New York Local 802 AFM announced a new collective bargaining agreement with the New York venue, 54 Below.
The agreement, introduced today, the first of its kind between Local 802 and a major NYC nightclub, formally ensures that the hundreds of musicians who play at 54 Below each year are compensated at area standards and given retirement security and contractual workplace protections, while taking into account the business model of the venue. The agreement ensures that the musicians, who are the backbone of New York’s thriving live music scene, are guaranteed salaries, benefits and contractual protections consistent with their status as professionals in their field.
“Local 802 applauds 54 Below for ensuring through this agreement that musicians are given the contractual workplace protections befitting their dedication and skill,” said Local 802 AFM President Tino Gagliardi in a statement. “Historically, musicians playing in nightclubs in New York City have often been deprived of essential rights and protections, and a great many still are. Other venues throughout New York should look to 54 Below for an example of how to do things right.”
Located a few blocks from Times Square and just below the former Studio 54 nightclub, 54 Below hosts 16 musical acts weekly. Since opening in 2012, the club has presented more than 2,050 shows, which provided 8,100 jobs for musicians.
“We were pleased to complete negotiations with Local 802 AFM that set area standards for the hundreds of musicians working at 54 Below each year regarding wages and access to pension and health benefits” said 54 Below owner Tom Viertel in a statement. “54 Below has led the way in providing opportunities for performers to express themselves in shows at our club, and we hope that other nightclubs in New York follow our lead in setting standards for musician compensation.”
Legendary jazz bassist Ron Carter also praised the agreement in a statement and asked that other New York City clubs follow 54 Below’s lead.
“As a musician who has played at many New York clubs, I applaud 54 Below for ensuring that their musicians are contractually protected when we go to work,” said Carter. “Other clubs should also do the right thing, and make sure that the musicians who play there are afforded contracts that guarantee their rights to area standard wages, pensions and other workplace protections—rights that are sadly absent for many working musicians in clubs throughout the city.”