Next steps at DCINY

Volume 124, No. 4April, 2024

DCINY Orchestra Committee

Musicians of the DCINY Orchestra rallying in front of Lincoln Center in November 2022

In the months since our contract was ratified in October 2023, our newly elected DCINY Orchestra Committee has been hard at work learning our new union roles within our community. We wanted to reflect and share our thoughts on the workplace transformation since the ratification of our first collective bargaining agreement.

Thanks to our new contract, orchestra members are now seeing significantly higher pay rates that define equitable base pay, principal premiums, doubling, overtime pay, streaming permissions, as well as health and pension contributions for the first time. The structure of orchestra services (including rehearsal breaks, rehearsal and concert length), hiring practices, and on-site work rules are defined and enforced.

Many players have noted better working conditions and a greater sense of respect coming from management in rehearsals and performances. From initial organizing efforts in 2019 to achieving a contract in October 2023, a stronger sense of camaraderie and identity can be felt by many members of our orchestra. Musicians have a greater sense of confidence in being able to address their concerns without the fear of being fired or disciplined. We also know that Local 802 will support us when issues arise, given that we now have regular communication flowing between the Orchestra Committee, Local 802, and DCINY management.

In our first few months as a committee we attended an orchestra committee training session led by Rochelle Skolnick, Director of Symphonic Services and Special Counsel at the AFM, to better understand our social and legal roles and responsibilities.

Mandy Patinkin (left) and the cast of Saturday Night Live’s “Please Don’t Destroy” (along with Local 802 Recording Vice President Harvey Mars) at the musicians’ June 2023 picket line outside of DCINY’s concert at Carnegie Hall

What is the job of the orchestra committee? On a basic level, the Orchestra Committee assists the local in negotiation, enforcement, and administration of the CBA. We covered a number of best practices to manage these duties. The committee must maintain open communications with the local in order to present a unified front to the employer. With a working contract now in place at DCINY, our committee can now foster direct communication with DCINY management, which we can build upon as we look to negotiate future contracts. With improved communications among all parties, the committee can attempt to resolve disagreements and facilitate resolutions before initiating grievance procedures.

Enforcement and administration of the contract relies on these communications to manage the grievance process. A grievance is “a complaint alleging a violation of the contract or other dispute between the parties or involving an employee.” The grievance process (as outlined in the CBA) provides a structure to receive and investigate concerns from the bargaining unit in order to resolve differences and avoid work stoppages.

To support these three core responsibilities, it is imperative to be accessible and responsive to our bargaining unit, and to equally represent all members. Two legal concepts were specifically emphasized to help underline this task. Under federal law, the “duty of fair representation” requirement states that when a union is the exclusive representative of a bargaining unit, it must represent unit members in a way that is reasonable and fair, and that the union acts honestly and in good faith.

In addition to honest advocacy for our members, we need to keep our bargaining unit informed and aware of their Weingarten Rights, a crucial legal protection concerning disciplinary actions taken by management. The NLRB defines Weingarten Rights as “the right of employees, upon request, to have their representative present during an interview that the employee reasonably believes could lead to discipline.” Part of our responsibility as a committee is to not only be available to be this representative if needed, but to make sure that the orchestra understands they have this right in the first place!

Our negotiating committee worked tirelessly with Local 802 and Recording Vice President Harvey Mars and his team for over four years to galvanize and support our orchestra community, and the campaign succeeded in obtaining our first unionized contract. Pay scale, benefits, and working conditions have all improved as tangible gains for our bargaining unit, and we hope to build on this foundation in future negotiations.

Our committee is working to nurture communication channels with DCINY management, Local 802, and across our large membership. With over 150 musicians, our community won’t necessarily all play together in a single season. We created the DCINY Player’s Guide resource to highlight key points of the contract and share specific union rights as presented in the training session. This resource will guide and answer questions for many new and existing musicians, who may be unfamiliar with the inherent benefits of union membership. As we navigate and enforce our contract, our current agenda includes creating internal bylaws that will govern the committee and orchestra membership. Taking the helpful advice of Ms. Skolnick and representatives at Local 802, we are working to establish systems that fairly represent and advocate for our entire DCINY Orchestra community.

The DCINY Orchestra Committee is Carlos Barriento, Katie Jordan, James Rogers, David Stevens, Jessica Taskov, Laura Thompson and Gregory Williams. Reach them at and follow them on social media @dcinyorchestra. Musicians who want to unionize their gigs can contact Local 802 at

DCINY musicians are smiling because they’re playing with a union contract! Pictured at a November 2023 performance at Carnegie Hall are (from left) Irena McGuffee, Yumi Oshima, Lisa Heffter and Greg Williams. Photo by Greg Williams (previously published in Allegro)