Local 802 Collects $50K for DiCapo Musicians

Volume CX, No. 10October, 2010

Local 802 has recovered over $50,000 in wages, pension and late fees for musicians who performed with Dicapo Opera last season. Management had failed to pay musicians for productions of “Il Caso Mortara,” Donizetti’s Requiem and “Madama Butterfly.”

The Concert Department began receiving calls from musicians in May after the deadline for payments from the April production of “Madama Butterfly” had passed and no one had been paid. At that point, Il Caso Mortara and Donizetti Requiem payments had also been late for over a month. Musicians who were counting on that money to pay the rent were in trouble.

Numerous calls and e-mails to Executive Director Michael Capasso were not returned. The AFM pension fund initiated its own collection procedure to recover the pension payments.

A grievance was filed against the employer for nonpayment of wages and benefits. As time went on, more and more musicians called wondering why they had not been paid. The Concert Department was told that Capasso was out of town and that checks would be sent out immediately.

When that didn’t happen, Local 802 upped the ante and proceeded to step 2 of our grievance procedure. The next step after that was to file for arbitration.

Finally, after repeated calls and e-mails and with an arbitration looming, checks started to come to musicians by the end of June. By July, everyone was paid and additional checks were sent to musicians to cover late payment penalties.

“Most of our employers pay on time,” said Senior Concert Rep Karen Fisher, who handled the grievance on behalf of the musicians. “But every so often we have something like this where the union has to step in and make sure musicians are paid.”

Fisher added, “This was an unacceptable situation, with some of our members in dire straits because they couldn’t pay their monthly bills. Dicapo utlimately had to pay not only what they owed but late fees as well. The next time you aren’t paid on time, call the union immediately. It’s our job.”