Hotel Musicians Settle New Contract, with Perfect

Volume CIX, No. 3March, 2009

Jim Hannen

Musicians have ratified the successor agreement to Local 802’s hotel contract. The agreement currently covers more than 40 musicians who perform in more than a dozen Manhattan hotels, and is the standard for all other steady work taking place within Local 802’s jurisdiction. 

The new four-year agreement is retroactive to March 1, 2008 and includes 3 percent wage increases each year. Health benefit contributions increase from the current $30 per day and a maximum of $60 per week, to $32.50 per day and a maximum of $65 per week retroactive to March 1, 2008. Thereafter, health contributions increase by $2.50 per day and a maximum of $5 per week each of the remaining three years. Harp maintenance also increased to a maximum of $50 per week.

Hotel Committee Chair Richard Jenkins summed up the negotiations. “We usually seem to be negotiating the hotel contract in the middle of a bad economy,” Jenkins told Allegro. “This time we started when hotel occupancy rates were high and foreign tourists were everywhere, and we wrapped up negotiations just as the current economic crisis began. The increases in wages and health benefits are consistent with other 802 contracts. Now we just have to keep the jobs.”

The Plaza Hotel reopened recently after converting much of its space to condos and has reintroduced harp music for afternoon tea in the renovated Palm Court. The Barclay Intercontinental reestablished music after many years, as have the Peninsula and Helmsley Park Lane. But the threat to continued live music in hotels continues, as other Midtown hotels are curtailing schedules and in some cases eliminating music altogether.