The Professional Musicians of Central New York enjoys a long and rich history, representing working musicians for well over a century. As part of an emerging national movement seeking recognition for performing musicians as professional artists entitled to fair compensation for their work, the Syracuse Musical Union was first organized on February 11, 1886, and was later reorganized as Local 18 of the National League of Musicians (NLM) of the United States.
NLM Locals were completely autonomous, however, with widely diverse pay scales, and little real identity as part of national union, and with no apparent interest in joining the national labor movement, either. Eventually, in 1896, the American Federation of Labor granted a charter to a group of NLM delegates who favored trade union affiliation, and the American Federation of Musicians was founded. On May 1, 1898 the Syracuse Musical Union was finally reorganized once again as Local 78 of the AFM, as the Syracuse Musicians' Protective Association, committed to the AFM principle that all musicians who receive pay need a labor union to secure fair wages and working conditions. Throughout the 20th century and the corresponding evolution of the music industry, Local 78 continued to represent the professional musicians of Syracuse and Onondaga County in theater, vaudeville, brass bands, symphony, night club and casual engagements, working with employers to ensure that proper working conditions and pay scales were always observed, while providing a much needed stabilizing force in a dramatically changing business. With the emergence of recorded music, much of the Association's energy and resources was necessarily redirected to help ensure that live music would not become obsolete. Continuing technological advancements during the past half-century have forever changed the world of music, but our slogan "Live Music Is Best" remains as true today as in the past, although "Live Union Music is Best of All".
During the 1980s, consistent with AFM policy consolidating nearby Locals sharing common interests and venues, the Syracuse Musicians' Association merged with the Auburn Musicians Union in 1986, forming what is now The Professional Musicians of Central New York, Local 78 - AFM. In the same spirit of consolidation, Local 78 merged with the Utica Musicians Union in 2011. We are affiliated with the Greater Syracuse Labor Council also known as the Central New York Area Labor Federation, the AFL-CIO, and the New York State Conference.
LOCAL 78 LEADERSHIP
Robert Bridge, President, is a Professor of Music at Onondaga Community College where he has been honored with many awards. Robert has degrees from the University of North Texas (B.M.E.), Southern Methodist University (M.M.), and the Eastman School of Music (D. M. A.). In 1995 he was awarded the Eastman School’s “Performer’s Certificate”. He has performed concertos with the Onondaga Civic Orchestra, the Eastman Kilbourn Orchestra and the Southern Methodist University Symphony Orchestra. Robert is the immediate Past-President of the Society for New Music. He currently serves as Secretary for the NY State chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. He is also a Past-President of the New York State Percussion Circuit. He serves as a Deacon at Park Central Presbyterian Church in Syracuse.
William Harris, Vice President, AFM Delegate, has been a member of Local 78 since 1960 and has served on the Executive Board for 40 years. A graduate of Nottingham HS and Syracuse University, Bill played in the US Military Academy Band from 1963-66 and was Principal Trombone of the Syracuse Symphony 49 years. Bill has performed with Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis, Jr, Tony Bennet, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Jr, Gap Mangione, and the Stan Colella Orchestra. He has taught at OCC since 1968 and was Professor of Trombone at SU from 1970-2021. He is Fire Police Captain of the Fayetteville Fire Department, a past President of the Onondaga county Volunteer Fire Police Association, and a New York State Peace Officer.
Joseph Carfagno, Secretary, AFM Delegate, joined Local 78 in 1952 right out of North High School. He served in the US Army at Ft. Richardson, AK, during the Korean War. Joe has been Secretary since 1983. He performs regularly with the Stan Colella Orchestra, and is a pianist, accordionist, and vibraphonist. He received a special AFM 60+ year award at the AFM International Convention in 2019. He is in the Syracuse Music Hall of Fame, the North High School Hall of Fame and the Liverpool Fine Arts Hall of Fame, and for many years was a football referee.
Edward O’Rourke, Treasurer, Greater Syracuse Labor Council Delegate, is a graduate of Corcoran HS, holds Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees from Syracuse University and did graduate study at the Boston Conservatory. His teachers were AFM members Ed Vezinho, Gerald Zampino, Ralph D’Mello, David Glazer, and Atillio Poto. He retired from the Syracuse City School District in 2014 after a 41-year career. He was treasurer of the Syracuse Teachers Association for 11 years. He is a member of NYSSMA, NYSBDA, NBA, the NYS Alliance of Retired Americans, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of NYSUT Retiree Council 7. He is a NYSSMA Woodwind Adjudicator and performs regularly with the Highland Winds Clarinet Quartet and several area Community Bands. He also serves on the 17th Ward Democratic Committee.
Richard Schaffer, Sergeant at Arms, graduated from the Eastman School of Music with a Bachelor of Music/Music Education Degree and Performer’s Certificate in 1963. After graduation he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was assigned to the United States Marine Band (“The President’s Own”). While stationed in Washington he obtained a Master of Music Degree from the Catholic University of America. Upon leaving the Marine Corps in 1967 he was accepted as the Third and Assistant First Trumpet in the Houston Symphony, a position he held until 1986 when he moved to the Second Trumpet position. He retired in 2001 after 34 years’ service and moved to the Syracuse area where he teaches at Onondaga Community College and has performed as extra trumpet with the Syracuse and Bangor, Maine symphony orchestras.
Carol is a former music teacher and a retired elementary principal who is currently serving as the Arts-in-Education Coordinator for Herkimer BOCES. Carol is performing in several musical groups and teaching private saxophone lessons. In addition to her service on the Executive Board of Local 78, she is President of the Crane School of Music Alumni Board (SUNY Potsdam), Immediate Past President of the CNY Arts Board, and Past President of the New Hartford Citizens’ Band. Ms. Dumka has a Bachelor of Music degree from SUNY Potsdam, a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Education Administration from SUNY Cortland.
COLLEEN REILLY O'NEIL has a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Clarinet Performance from Ithaca College, and a Master of Music in Music Education from Syracuse University. Colleen taught instrumental and general music in public and parochial schools in the Mohawk Valley area for twenty years and has played previously as a sub/extra in the Utica and Catskill Symphony Orchestras. In 2006, she co-founded the Rome Community Concert Band. Colleen is an original member of Jewel Winds Quintet and Alliance Classical Players, and currently serves as Secretary-Treasurer for ACP as well. She lives in Rome with her husband Chris, sons Patrick and Kevin, and dogs Leo and Max.