With a new coverage period for the Health Benefits Plan beginning this month, 802 members have been scrambling to be sure they have earned enough credits to qualify for coverage. For the period beginning Oct. 1, members must have been credited with $1,075 in contributions between Jan. 1 and June 30 to qualify for Plan A, or $400 to qualify for Plan B.
Historically, one group of musicians has often found that there was no record of their work — the audition and rehearsal musicians who play for many Broadway shows. With the work arranged, and paid for, by a casting office rather than by the show’s producers, these musicians have often been paid on 1099’s and received neither health nor pension credits.
The union had no way of knowing about this work until the musicians involved brought it to our attention. But once members provided us with a list of the days and hours they worked, and the salary they earned for any given production, Local 802 credited them for the health benefits they were due and wrote the producers to request payment. Our letter pointed out that “both audition and rehearsal work are clearly covered under the collective bargaining agreement between Local 802 and the League of American Theatres and Producers” — and the fact that the day’s work may have been paid for by a casting agency does not affect this contractual requirement. In the large majority of cases, the producers then remitted the HBP contribution promptly.
MUSICIANS CAN RECOVER CREDITS
Follow-up of this sort has enabled a number of audition musicians to qualify for HBP coverage. And, almost more importantly, it has ensured that their earnings from these gigs were included in the salary information we provide each quarter to the pension fund.
These wages can make a very substantial difference in their eventual pension benefit, and the union is committed to seeing that all members who work on Broadway receive their fair share of the allocated funds.
In the fall of 2004, Local 802 wrote all Broadway producers to ensure that they were aware of this contractual requirement. Since then, many shows have adjusted their payroll reports to routinely include audition work that previously had been paid by casting agencies. We have been receiving remittances for some new productions earlier in their preparation cycle. But there are still shows that are not reporting audition and rehearsal work fully, and not paying the required benefits.
The first requirement for following up on unreported work is that musicians keep accurate records of the days and hours worked for each production, and the salary earned for each session. Without this information, it is not possible for the union to generate a billing for benefits owed. It is also helpful to begin checking your contribution records early, so we can follow up shortages before a new coverage period begins. Right now, for example, several months’ worth of contributions for the second half of 2006 are recorded in the 802 database.
If you are an audition musician who has not received HBP credits for your work on Broadway productions, please contact me at (212) 245-4802, ext. 113, or firstname.lastname@example.org.