Brooklyn Philharmonic, Local 802 Finalize Three-Year Agreement

Freelance Negotiations Update

Volume CII, No. 5May, 2002

The current round of freelance concert negotiations moved one step closer to completion last month, as Local 802 and the Brooklyn Philharmonic resolved outstanding local issues and wrapped up their extended, and sometimes contentious, bargaining for a new agreement.

Last month’s Allegro reported that a tentative verbal agreement had been reached in which orchestra management accepted the basic economic package of the New York Pops agreement, now promulgated as the industry-wide freelance concert scale. Since then, the parties had met on three separate occasions to resolve local issues.

“The union achieved its goal of maintaining industry-wide economic standards, without any givebacks from the prior Brooklyn Philharmonic agreement,” Assistant Director David Lennon told Allegro. The two primary provisions that management was seeking to remove from the contract were the work guarantee and hospitalization costs.

Management has agreed to honor the work guarantee for their February and March concerts (the orchestra had been replaced with a piano recital in February, and the March concerts were reduced from a full orchestra to a chamber orchestra) and for all future work. A grant from the Consortium for Worker Education for future concerts helped the orchestra maintain this contractual provision.

Rehearsal releases were increased from one to two per season. The parties agreed to continue the past practice currently employed under Music Director Robert Spano, whereby musicians must seek approval of the release, since the committee felt that this has not been a problem. However, rehearsal releases would not require approval from any future music director.

The Pops librarian language was modified to reflect Brooklyn’s current practice: the position is paid 150 percent of gross scale and includes 14 hours of off-site work. Beyond 14 hours, librarians will be paid at the appropriate 802 Music Prep General Price List scale.

The working conditions of the Pops agreement are incorporated into this contract, as is language on composers’ recordings from the ACO agreement. Some language regarding procedural aspects of the CBA was reviewed and amended by mutual agreement.

Two committees are to be formed. The first is to establish terms and conditions covering educational and public service events. If, after one year, agreement cannot be reached, this issue will be submitted to final and binding arbitration. The second committee, which will include one union official, will attempt to establish guidelines for opera in concert performances. Failure to agree on such guidelines will mean that the current practice – in which the Executive Board makes a ruling on a case-by-case basis – will continue.

As this issue went to press, management was expected to sign off on the agreement within days, and the CBA to go to musicians for ratification during rehearsals for their April 26-27 concerts. “Although it was certainly the most difficult negotiation to date, the committee and the union feel optimistic that things can move smoothly from this point forward,” Lennon said.

The negotiating committee was made up of Lou Bruno (chair), Kathy Fink, Steve Hartman, Jules Hirsh and Andy Seligson. They were assisted by 802 counsel Lenny Leibowitz, Financial Vice-President Tina Hafemeister, Assistant Director David Lennon and Concert Rep Joe Delia.

Negotiations with the American Symphony Orchestra, Long Island Philharmonic and New York Chamber Orchestra were still under way, as this issue went to press. Agreements with Riverside Symphony and Bronx Arts Ensemble were expected to be signed off on in the coming weeks.