Jazz Instructors Renew Contract

Volume CIV, No. 12December, 2004

Bill Dennison

Part-time faculty members at the New School University’s Jazz and Contemporary Music Program have ratified a new four-year agreement that will raise wages 16 percent over the life of the contract. The agreement, which covers approximately 75 faculty members, also provides for improvements in committee pay and health benefit contributions.

“I believe this is a good agreement that continues to move us forward,” said Jimmy Owens, a member of the faculty negotiating committee. “This is our third agreement with the New School and each time I feel we have made some progress.”

Local 802’s negotiations with the New School began last April and were finally concluded shortly after classes began in early September. Looming over the talks were the union organizing efforts of the other 1,600 part-time faculty at the New School who had voted in favor of union representation last year in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. The outcome of that election, won by Region 9A of the United Auto Workers union, had been challenged by the New School. Only a few weeks ago the New School finally agreed to recognize and bargain with the faculty members’ new union.

An important part of the new Local 802 agreement is a “me-too” clause requiring that the part-time jazz faculty be granted any increase in pension or health benefits extended to any other unit of employees at the New School. Should the 1,600 UAW members succeed in winning improvement in these benefits, they will be extended to the jazz faculty.

“This is an important clause for us,” said faculty member David Lopato. “We need improvements in health benefits that take into account the needs of faculty members with families. While the 70 of us would have a hard time winning this, we are hopeful that the 1,600 will have a better shot at it and we will be as supportive of their efforts as we can possibly be.”

Among the other improvements in the Local 802 contract is an increase in pay for serving on the faculty executive and curriculum committees to $400 from $300. There is also a “me-too” on wage increases granted to other part-time faculty bargaining units up to a maximum of 5 percent in the last three years of the contract.

The New School health benefit contribution rises to $2,230 per year from $2,000, with a guarantee of Plan A coverage for those opting for the Local 802 Health Benefit Plan. Any increase in the cost of Plan A will be covered by the employer up to a maximum of 8 percent over the life of the agreement.

The jazz faculty negotiating committee included Armen Donelian, Dave Glasser, Richard Harper, Bill Kirchner, Janet Lawson, Amy London, David Lopato, Arun Luthra, Junior Mance, Jimmy Owens, Francesca Tanksley, Rory Stuart and Charles Tolliver. They were assisted by Recording Vice President Bill Dennison, 802 counsel Len Leibowitz and 802 rep Milton Charles.