After many months of intermittent negotiating, Local 802 and the Hotelmen’s Committee for Hotel Users of Music reached agreement in mid-December. The previous contract had expired on March 1, 1999.
Included in the new three-year agreement is a retroactive wage increase of 3 percent and a 2 percent increase effective March 1, 2001. The current pension contribution rate of 8 percent increases to 9 percent on March 1, 2000, and to 10 percent on March 1, 2001. The period for musicians to achieve tenure has been extended from 13 months to 26 months for all musicians hired after Dec. 15, 1999, and all tenured musicians who work 20 or more hours per week will be entitled to unpaid medical leave of 15 weeks.
Although the process was delayed by difficulties in getting representatives of the more than 30-member signatory employers’ committee to the bargaining table, a strong Hotel Musicians’ Committee, chaired by Rich Jenkins, persisted and reached a fair agreement.
The extension of the period required for newly-hired musicians to achieve tenure reflects the reality that many musicians are terminated after 12 months – never reaching the requisite 13 months. Employer representatives were adamant about the extension, and the musicians’ committee concluded that it would probably provide musicians with more work for longer periods of time.
Initial signals from the employers’ committee indicated a desire to replace the current three-tiered wage scale, which is based on total weekly hours worked, with a single wage rate. But when the employers proposed eliminating leader premiums for new hires as a condition, the musicians’ committee rejected the proposal. Currently there are leader premiums for solo, leader of a duo and leader of three or more musicians, with solo performers predominating in the field. The premiums remain in place.
A CHANGING FIELD
“The hotel music scene has been in transition over the past several years, with most employers departmentalizing their operations, making each room that features live music responsible for turning a profit,” said lead negotiator and Local 802 President Bill Moriarity. “This makes the lives of musicians in this highly visible and very important field more tenuous than ever. All things considered, I believe we arrived at the best possible agreement.”
It is important to note that the Pierre and Four Seasons Hotels dropped out of the larger Hotelmen’s Committee early in the process and must be negotiated with separately. Within the next month or two all musicians who worked in a signatory hotel from March 1 through Dec. 15, 1999, should expect payment for retroactive wage increases.
In addition to Jenkins and Moriarity, the committee consisted of Kurt Weiting, Kathleen Landis, Nancy Winston, Paul Gurevich, Paul Gorsci, Mark Donald, Joe Troppe and Daryl Sherman. As usual at hotel negotiations, the participation of Local 802 Counsel Leonard Leibowitz was invaluable.