Legal Fund Benefits Go Up

Volume CVI, No. 2February, 2006

Orchestras and ensembles who use outside lawyers for contract negotiations will now be able to receive a larger reimbursement from the union under a bylaw resolution adopted by 802’s Executive Board on Oct. 11, 2005.

From time to time, ensembles — like the New York Philharmonic or the Met Opera Orchestra, for example — choose to hire their own lawyers for their negotiations. The union has allowed this and has even reimbursed ensembles for these expenses, from a fund called the Members Legal Services Fund.

Under the fund’s provisions, these reimbursements are made according to a formula. The basic formula has been a base of $1,000 per orchestra plus $250 per eligible member. The new formula will be $3,000 per orchestra plus $300 per eligible member.

This means a 100-member ensemble could now be eligible for up to $7,000 more in reimbursements for hiring outside legal counsel.

There are also two caps on these amounts. The general cap is $30,000 for a three-year contract negotiation or up to $50,000 for a five-year contract negotiation. The specific cap is 6 percent of the total work dues generated by that bargaining unit over the prior three years or the period of the previous contract, whichever is less.

The resolution also increases the amount of money the union puts into this fund from the General Fund — to $35,000 annually, from $25,000.

This resolution would have been voted on by members at the Oct. 11 membership meeting. However, a quorum was not present, which allowed the Executive Board to pass the resolution itself.