Justice for Jazz Artists and AFM, Local 802 hit the ground running again last week, and scored major points in our quest to bring pension and other benefits to thousands of New York City area jazz musicians.
On Thursday, June 27, 2013, in a strategic two-pronged protest with music, J4JA musicians and supporters demonstrated against SHAKE SHACK at Madison Square Park and JAZZ STANDARD, at 116 East 27th Street in Manhattan. These venues are part of a multi-million dollar concern, owned by entrepreneur Danny Meyer and his partners, Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG).
JAZZ STANDARD is a premier NYC jazz venue.
Despite entreaties by jazz musicians, their union representatives, and elected officials, USHG remains intransigent on the issues of pension and compensation for live recordings made at JAZZ STANDARD, and has refused to meet or communicate with musicians or their union representatives.
Other New York City venues owned by Danny Meyer and USHG include Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Café, North End Grill, Blue Smoke (2 NYC locations) Maialino, and Creative Juice. USHG also operates highly profitable concessions in MOMA, the Whitney Museum and at CITI FIELD.
Additionally, there are SHAKE SHACK franchises throughout the Eastern United States with locations in Boston, Philadelphia, New Haven, Westport, CT, Washington, D.C., South Beach, Boca Raton, and Coral Gables, FL; and several more in New York City. Other Shake Shack locations include the Middle East with franchises in Dubai, Kuwait City, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Istanbul. There is also a Shake Shack in London.
On Thursday, June 27, J4JA musicians played LIVE JAZZ to the delight of hundreds of people dining at SHAKE SHACK in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park. During the performance, union representatives, musicians and J4JA supporters passed out informational leaflets encouraging Shake Shack customers to contact Union Square Hospitality Group to urge the partners to sit down with AFM, Local 802 on the pension issue, and to discuss other essential issues of fairness for jazz musicians who work at Jazz Standard.
Since 2007, Jazz Standard and USHG have refused to return phone calls from Local 802 or answer any letters or emails from J4JA or from the union.
After their performance in the park, the musical group moved on to JAZZ STANDARD and played outside the venue, on East 27th Street, while the club’s customers lined up for a performance inside by trumpeter Hugh Masekela. After the demonstration, a representative from Jazz Standard appeared and conducted a lengthy discussion with union reps on the sidewalk. Despite efforts by union officials to persuade Jazz Standard to enter into meaningful talks, Jazz Standard reacted strongly to the demonstration, characterizing as “defamatory” J4JA leaflets decrying USHG’s unwillingness to guarantee basic working standards such as pension or recording provision for musicians who work in the club.
Notwithstanding roadblocks currently put in place by USHG, Local 802 officials and J4JA musicians hailed the march as a symbolic victory, as the evening’s conversation with the club’s management was J4JA’s first direct engagement with JAZZ STANDARD in over five years.
Based on conservative estimates, Jazz Standard brought in more than $2,250,000 in gross receipts in 2012. The annual cost of providing union pension to all musicians who perform in the club would be less than $100,000, the union estimates.
If USHG remains unyielding on this and other J4JA campaign issues, J4JA expects that there will be more efforts to gain the attention of USHG/Jazz Standard, and the public, in the weeks to come. Stay tuned!
To send an email to Danny Meyer and USHG encouraging them to do right by jazz musicians, click HERE