Wages and working conditions have improved greatly for musicians touring with Man of La Manchaa, since Local 802 helped them get an AFM touring agreement for the low-budget production mounted by Park Avenue Productions.
Soon after the tour started last September, musicians contacted Local 802 with a wide range of complaints. Perhaps most significant were the enormous differences in how musicians and actors were treated. The actors, now in the second year of a union contract, were consulted often by management, getting to vote on such issues as when to have dinner breaks. When the musicians asked to be able to vote, their request was ignored on the grounds they were not covered by a union contract. They were put up in dirty hotel rooms and given so little room on the bus that they sometimes had to hold their instruments for hours.
Galled at the lack of respect – to say nothing of the lack of pension, health benefits and overtime pay -Ñ they approached the union. Over the Christmas hiatus they met with 802 staff, members of the Small Theatres Committee and AFM representatives. Mark Heter, Director of the Federation’s Touring, Theatre and Booking Division, soon informed the employer that he had signed recognition cards from the 10 musicians. He asked them to voluntarily recognize the AFM, which has jurisdiction over touring shows, as the musicians’ bargaining representative.
When recognition was not forthcoming, Heter and 802 staff met the musicians at the tour bus on Jan. 2 and asked them to take their instruments off the bus. This resulted in a signed recognition agreement, and negotiations began a few days later. The new contract includes pension and health benefits, improved wages, overtime pay, recording language, union security and a grievance and arbitration provision.