Local 802 Reaches Agreements With Three Freelance Orchestras

Volume CII, No. 6June, 2002

Negotiations in the freelance concert field moved closer to completion in the last month, as Local 802 reached agreement with three additional orchestras: the Long Island Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra and Riverside Symphony.

While economic issues had been the most difficult to resolve in earlier negotiations, the package achieved at the New York Pops in 802’s first agreement of this bargaining season is now accepted as the standard for the field. Those provisions have been incorporated in all subsequent agreements, and promulgated as the Single Engagement Classical Concert Wage Scale. Highlights of the three contracts can be found by clicking here.

Although Local 802 has fought to maintain a level playing field on economic issues, most freelance orchestra agreements vary considerably in their treatment of noneconomic issues. Difficulty in resolving local issues had delayed agreement with the Long Island Philharmonic. An agreement was reached at the eleventh hour, under threat of a strike.

At the Long Island Philharmonic, musicians were deeply concerned about work guarantees, schedule changes and cancellations. Other concerns centered on mileage payments, audition procedures and personal leave. The committee’s determination to win a contract that addressed members’ concerns ultimately won provisions that go, in some cases, beyond those of the Pops agreement. Orchestra members unanimously ratified the agreement during the break between their dress rehearsal and concert on April 21.

The most complex and sensitive issue confronted in 802’s bargaining with the American Symphony Orchestra involved efforts to incorporate the Bard Music Festival, which is under the aegis of the same employer, into the ASO agreement. “These negotiations involved a collaborative effort by management and the union to make this transition as gradual and fair as possible, and to offer employment opportunities to as many musicians as possible,” said Assistant Director David Lennon. Other highlights include provisions on personal leave and amendments to the dismissal and non-reengagement procedures. The agreement was overwhelmingly ratified prior to the ASO’s May 10 concert.

Musicians of the Riverside Symphony were to hold their ratification vote on June 6.