It’s a Deal!

John W Engeman Theatre agrees to 802 contract

Volume CIX, No. 10October, 2009

John W. Engeman Theatre
The John W. Engeman Theatre in Northport, Long Island.

Until this year, the 400-seat John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, Long Island, was a nonunion venue for musicians.

Happily, that’s changed now.

For nearly a year, Principal Theatre Rep Mary Donovan and Long Island Senior Business Rep Frank DeFilippi went about organizing the musicians the old fashioned way – by talking to them, gaining their support and getting representation cards signed.

Armed with the knowledge that Local 802 represented a majority of the musicians, Donovan and DeFilippi approached theater management to negotiate a contract.

Richard Dolce, the producer and artistic director of the theater, agreed to meet. Talks began in April.

After three meetings and several communications a deal was reached.

Both Local 802 and the AFM waived initiation fees for all non-members who joined the union as a result of this organizing effort.

The one-year agreement covers all Main Stage Series productions and recognizes Local 802 as the exclusive bargaining representative for musician/employees hired for those productions.

  • Wage scales for a five performance week will increase to from the old rate of $300 to a new rate of $375, prorated at $75 per performance.
  • Rehearsals will pay $50 per rehearsal for up to four hours and $10 per half hour beyond four hours.
  • Audition musicians will earn not less than $20 per hour for up to four hours, with a two-hour minimum call.
  • Auditions over four hours are paid at not less than $140 for up to seven hours and $170 for up to eight hours.
  • Premiums are paid for the contractor, music director/conductor, associate conductor (if employed), doubling, synthesizer and any on-stage work.
  • For the first time, there will be a pension contribution. It will be 6 percent of wages.
  • The contract also provides for vacation, sick leave, substitution, identity with the product, payment as employees and acknowledgment of the union in the theater’s program.

Originally opened in 1932 as the Northport Theater, the space was renovated in 1950 under the ownership of Associated Prudential Theaters and was used primarily as a movie theater.

It was purchased later by United Artists Theaters, but was closed in 1996.

Subsequent renovations and changes in ownership failed to prove much of a success, until the venue was purchased in 2005 by Dennis Tannenbaum and later sold to its current owners, the O’Neills, in 2006.

The theater was named the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport to honor the brother of Mrs. O’Neill, who was killed in Iraq in 2006.

The theatre, which boasts a Broadway-style pit, produces an average of eight musicals a year, employing five to 12 musicians per production.

For audience members, a top seat costs $60.

The theatre is currently producing “Rent” though Nov. 1.

Future productions include “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Any questions about the agreement should be directed to Frank DeFillipi at (516) 576-9436.

Mary Donovan can also answer questions; she’s at (212) 245-4802, ext. 156.

The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport joins the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport and the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor as union venues on Long Island.