802, Producers Reach Agreement for Two Broadway Workshops

Volume XCIX, No. 10November, 1999

David Lennon

In recent months, Local 802 has negotiated Broadway workshop agreements for Swing (with Richard Frankel Productions) and Wise Guys (with 101 Productions, Ltd.). The union is attempting to standardize the workshop agreement, and is hopeful that recent negotiations are steps toward our goal of reaching a collective bargaining agreement, through the League, which covers all such developmental work. However, these agreements are still currently being negotiated on a per-production basis and therefore contain certain adjustments specific to each individual project.

Both agreements maintain the current standard rehearsal base wage of $1,035 for a 42-hour week, allowing for a prorated daily wage and a $40 hourly rehearsal rate, with a three-hour minimum call. Also, both agreements guarantee a 60 percent music director/conductor premium, a 9 percent pension contribution and a health contribution of $54 a week.

The Swing agreement guarantees the employment of an associate conductor, at a 30 percent premium, once full orchestra rehearsals commence, and additionally requires the employment of a playing musician as in-house contractor, at a 25 percent premium. The Wise Guys agreement requires employment of an associate conductor for the entire run of the workshop, at a 15 percent premium.

While both contracts guarantee a per-presentation base wage of $155, the Wise Guys agreement further provides a weekly performance base wage of $1,000 (for seven performances or less) and a $30-per-hour presentation week rehearsal wage. This provision was negotiated because the show involves an unusually high number of weekly presentations: seven per week, during a four-week period.

Neither agreement was reached without some difficulty. Although a verbal agreement had been achieved on all terms and conditions for the Swing workshop, prior to its commencement, the producer refused to sign off on the agreement and subsequently fired two of the eight musicians. As a result, Local 802’s Executive Board approved the filing of an Unfair Labor Practice charge, as well as strike benefits for the musicians. After the musicians were informed that work would not be permitted to continue into full orchestra rehearsals, the agreement was signed, with a full workshop salary buyout for the two released musicians.

Both agreements clearly provide a guarantee of no loss in wages, once the initial work schedule is established and given to the musicians. The Wise Guys workshop, currently in progress, is presently scheduling fewer rehearsal hours than were originally designated to the musicians. However, the contract specifically guarantees that musicians must receive full wages in such a situation, regardless of any schedule changes.

Those events have made it clear that successful negotiations for these projects apparently must occur with an in-person team, across the table, and that work cannot be permitted to begin without a signed agreement in place.