A Stroll Down Off Broadway

Organizing Notebook

Volume CIX, No. 10October, 2009

Mary Donovan

Benefits? Yes!
Better Wages? Yes!

If you get called to play an Off Broadway production or a reading, call Mary Donovan at (212) 245-4802, ext 156. Give us the chance to improve your wages and make it a union contract. You deserve it!

If it’s off Broadway, it should be union! Local 802 is doing our part: over the last several months, we achieved several new contracts in this field.

We negotiated a new agreement with “The Fantasticks,” which has been running at the 199-seat Jerry Orbach Theatre (formerly Snapple Theatre) for the past three years. The contract is based on the union’s Commercial Off Broadway Area Standards. (See for scales.) The new three-year agreement has a wage freeze in the first year and a 3 percent increase in year two and three at the 100 to 199 seat minimum scale.

A second year contract was negotiated for “Sessions” and a new contract for “An Evening at the Carlyle” for productions at the 99-seat Algonquin Theatre. The producers have agreed to abide by the Off Broadway standards at 80 percent of scale for performances and rehearsals. Music preparation pays at 80 percent of the General Price List.

A contract was concluded for a production of “Booth” at the 860-seat Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University. The contract terms were negotiated with the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Barbara Oldham was engaged as the contractor to put together the 19-piece orchestra. There were three rehearsals and six performances. The six performances paid a minimum scale of $1,270.57, and rehearsals paid $49.43 per hour. The conductor was an employee of the university and therefore was not covered by the agreement. Doubling scale paid 10 percent for the first double and 5 percent for each additional double. Pension paid 12 percent of wages and health was capped at $150. The payroll was handled by Local 802’s own payroll service, Legit 802.

Local 802 negotiated two agreements for a developmental reading of “Big Time” for 17 musicians, including the conductor. The staged readings took place at Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University. The first reading for rehearsals and performance was Sept. 5 to Sept. 12, 2008 and the second was July 28 through Aug. 4, 2009. Musicians earned $515 for 29 hours of rehearsal and one performance. Health contributions were capped at $76 and 8 percent pension was paid for each production. Once again, Legit 802 handled the payroll.

Local 802 negotiated a second letter of agreement with the MCC Theater Company for a production of “Coraline,” a children’s musical. The terms were the same as we negotiated with another nonprofit theatre, the Vineyard Theatre and Workshop Company. See for more information.

Long Island is on our radar, too. In addition to a new contract with the John W. Engeman Theatre in Northport (see story on page 4), we also re-negotiated a one-year agreement with the 299-seat Bay Street Theatre in Snug Harbor. The new terms for a one-year contract include a 3 percent wage increase. The eight-performance week pays $775.02. Orchestra rehearsals pay $27.48, with a minimum two-hour call. The music director/conductor earns a premium of 50 percent. Doubling pays 12.5 percent for the first double and 6.25 percent for each additional. The synthesizer premium is 25 percent. Vacation remains at 6 percent, pension remains at 9 percent and health has been increased to a cap of $72 per week. Music preparation pays 100% of General Price List.

Local 802 is working on finalizing a new agreement with “Altar Boyz” at New World Stages and “Bye Bye Birdie” at the Henry Miller Theatre.

We have not been able to get a contract for the “Marvelous Wonderettes.” The four musicians there continue to earn less than prevailing wages and also receive no pension and health benefits.