Volume C, No. 7/8July, 2000
MORE THAN $20,000 COLLECTED IN HOTEL GRIEVANCE
For nearly two years Local 802’s Contract Administration Department has been trying to collect health, pension and hospitalization payments for five musicians who work at the Carlyle Hotel. The Eddy Davis Band, featuring Woody Allen, has performed at the Carlyle on Monday nights since April 1997.
Like many hotels who are signatory to the Hotel Agreement, the Carlyle employs an agent, Jerry Kravat Entertainment, to manage its musical needs. Kravat, once the leading agent in Manhattan hotels, handles payroll, benefit payments and files reports with Local 802 for the five-piece band. As it turned out, Kravat only filed reports and made benefit payments for the period September 1998 through September 1999. When all attempts to collect the money from Kravat failed, Local 802 filed for arbitration with the signatory employer – the Carlyle.
Management proved much more responsive, and worked closely with the union to determine what was owed and resolve the problem. After only a few months the hotel sent checks to Local 802 totaling more than $20,000 for health, pension and hospitalization benefits. Local 802 is grateful for the Carlyle’s efforts.
NEW YORK GILBERT AND SULLIVAN PLAYERS
An outstanding grievance was settled on June 3, when management of the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players agreed to compensate musicians for the last-minute cancellation of a Jan. 25 children’s concert. As part of the settlement, NYGASP paid musicians 50 percent of the wages they were owed, as well as pension and health benefits. Musicians who showed up at the hall received a travel reimbursement in addition to the compensation. Taken together, the travel reimbursement and the compensation were equivalent to full pay.
NYGASP and the union settled this grievance – which was filed after the engagement was cancelled because of a snowstorm – on a non-precedential basis.
In the latest round of his battle to collect from Zinno’s Restaurant, bassist Sean Smith recently won a judgement against One Sock Productions, the corporation that paid Smith with bounced checks when he performed at the restaurant last year.
Smith has already won judgements against Zinno’s Restaurant itself, which is apparently out of business, and against Bob Perazzo, an owner. When he proved unable to collect any money from those judgements Smith, Senior Organizer Mikael Elsila and Local 802 attorney Harvey Mars decided to go where the money was.
The judgement was for $1,221.62. One Sock Productions is apparently a closely-held corporation with one shareholder, Frederick Martini. Musicians who performed at Zinno’s were often paid on checks from One Sock Productions. Other musicians who were stiffed include John Hicks, Joanne Brackeen and Cecil McBee.
An arbitrator recently ruled that the Plaza Hotel was within its rights in firing five musicians in June of 1999. As reported in the July/August 1999 issue of Allegro, all but one of the musicians were pianists working in the hotel’s Palm Court as part of violin/piano duos performing continental-style music. The firings came soon after Local 802 filed a grievance on behalf of the musicians charging the Plaza with violating the Hotel Agreement when it failed to adequately maintain the Palm Court piano. The union believed the timing of the firings was questionable and filed for arbitration.
The Plaza Hotel argued that the musicians were fired as a cost-saving measure and that they did so without violating the agreement, which permits employers to change the musical format with proper notice to tenured musicians. Local 802 argued that the musicians were fired as a result of their union activity, and that merely firing musicians did not change the format. In fact, continental-style music continued with solo violins.
After three lengthy sessions the arbitrator handed down his ruling in May. He found that the Plaza Hotel acted within its rights under the contract, that it legitimately changed the musical format as defined in the agreement, and that its actions were based solely on economic concerns.
THE CIVIL WAR
Local 802 recently won the first of two arbitrations involving The Civil War with the League of American Theatres and Producers, but lost the second.
The issue in the first arbitration was out-of-town per diem payments. The producers had tried to prorate the last day of per diem – for which, as the union pointed out, no contractual provision exists. The arbitrator ruled in the union’s favor.
The second arbitration, held on March 30, involved the company’s failure to pay time-and-one-half for the ninth performance of a week. The performance in question was a dress rehearsal which began the first week of previews.
Local 802 contended that, since dress rehearsals are compensated at the performance rate, this should have been counted as an additional performance over and above the eight performance in a week maximum, thereby entitling the musicians to time-and-one-half the performance rate. The League argued that, although a dress rehearsal may be compensated at the performance rate, that alone did not deem the dress rehearsal a performance for other purposes under the collective bargaining agreement.
The League’s position relied greatly on differentiating between performances and dress rehearsals. Local 802 argued that the reason musicians receive premium payment is for services rendered. In this case, an invited dress rehearsal, the musicians were involved in a full performance of the show – requiring the same degree of skill, effort and concentration as any other performance.
Although agreeing with the union in that regard, the arbitrator found that the contractual provisions were unambiguous with respect to the distinction between dress rehearsals and performances. Therefore, the arbitrator determined it to be an “unwarranted leap” to conclude that, although musicians were compensated at the performance rate, they were engaged in a “ninth weekly performance.” The grievance was therefore denied.