Grievance Corner

Volume CII, No. 12December, 2002


Local 802’s four-year skirmish with a small chamber opera company continued with another victory for the union. On Oct. 30, the NLRB’s regional director upheld Local 802’s position and ruled against Diana Corto and the American Opera Musical Theatre Company (AOMTC).

The dispute goes back to 1998, when the company agreed to negotiate with 802 but then reneged. Corto has been ordered to bargain with 802 twice already. She lost her appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals on June 18. Her latest gambit was to request a “unit clarification” from the NLRB, which she hoped would limit Local 802’s recognition to the 10 or so musicians who originally performed with Corto at Staten Island College, where the dispute originated.

But Region 2 Director Celeste Mattina affirmed that the union has recognition over all musicians employed by Corto.

Corto had until Nov. 13 to appeal this latest ruling. She can appeal to Washington and then again to the Court of Appeals.

No matter what the legal outcome is, Local 802 has issued an active warning: under no circumstances should musicians accept an engagement with Diana Corto. Musicians who hear of a production by Diana Corto or the American Opera Musical Theatre Company, whether in New York or anywhere else, should contact the union immediately.


Local 802 settled a grievance with the New York Scandia Symphony. The settlement covered outstanding pension and health benefits for a limited pressing recording that took place on May 10, 2001.

The employer requested special permission from the union to record the concert under the AFM’s Limited Pressing agreement. Such permission was required because the Limited Pressing agreement, which affords certain groups the ability to make a recording at far lower rates than the Phonograph agreement, expressly states that it is not to be used for symphonic music.

The union granted permission, provided that the employer pay all monies owed on an outstanding grievance concerning a previous recording session in February. The employer agreed and paid the amount owed.

Subsequent to the engagement, however, the employer withheld benefits to the musicians in an attempt to dispute the monies it had just paid for the February session.

A meeting between Scandia and 802 finally took place on Oct. 1 after the employer was informed that no further consideration for MPTF funding would be given to Scandia until it resolved its outstanding grievances with the union.

Local 802 obtained full payment, and clarified the rules and procedures governing future recordings.


Local 802 won $1,000 for musicians when a portion of a May 2002 performance by Keely Smith at Feinstein’s at the Regency was improperly recorded by radio personality Dick Robinson. Later, the recording was aired in conjunction with an interview of Ms. Smith on radio station WRTN.

Nine musicians performed the engagement and several alerted the Contract Enforcement Department after listening to the interview. Since neither the Regency Hotel, signatory to the Hotel Agreement, nor Keely Smith was aware that Robinson was recording the performance, the union contacted Robinson for payment of wages and benefits under the AFM’s Public Radio Agreement. Mr. Robinson paid promptly. The Regency, which announces a prohibition of any kind of recording prior to all live shows, cooperated in resolving this matter, as well as Keely Smith herself.

Separately, the Contract Enforcement Department reached a settlement of $3,000 for a musician fired by a club date employer, after filing a grievance. The settlement agreement represents payment for engagements lost through the end of this year. Due to a confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement, the union cannot disclose any further information on this dispute.