Negotiations Roundup

Volume CI, No. 11November, 2001


Musicians of the Dance Theatre of Harlem Orchestra unanimously ratified a new contract as they prepared for the 2001 New York Season at City Center. All wages and benefits have been increased to Local 802 Freelance Ballet/Opera Scale. Key provisions include $1,400 for five to seven performances within six consecutive days, an hourly rehearsal rate of $39 and a health benefit contribution of $23 per performance and $5.25 per rehearsal, with a $69 weekly performance cap.

An important gain in the new agreement is an increase in the employer’s pension contribution, raising it to the current area standard rate of 14 percent. Previously, the pension contribution had lagged a half a percentage point behind the 802 Freelance Ballet/Opera rate.

Improvements were also made in the contract’s attendance requirement and scheduling and notification provisions. The prior attendance requirement of 75 percent will now only apply when Dance Theatre of Harlem schedules four or fewer programs in the New York season. This clarification was necessary because, over the years, an increase in the number of programs had created nearly a 100 percent attendance requirement in order to maintain tenure. Seasons that now contain more than four programs will not carry an attendance requirement. In the past, the employer was also only required to send musicians a tentative schedule by September, just a couple of weeks prior to the New York season. Now the employer must send all musicians a tentative schedule three months in advance of the season and a final schedule no later than four weeks prior to the season.

While the union’s goal of increasing wages and benefits to full Ballet/Opera scale was achieved, both parties ultimately agreed to a short-term contract that would allow the New York season to move forward. Talks for a multi-year agreement will resume after the 2001 New York season.

DTH orchestra committee members Lou Bruno (chair), Gerhardt Koch, Eugene Moye, David Wechsler and Wilmer Wise, assisted by Local 802 legal counsel Leonard Leibowitz and Assistant Director and Concert Department Supervisor David Lennon, were the union’s team at the bargaining table.


A new contract covering a piano player at the Palm New York Westside Restaurant was recently negotiated. The new one-year agreement provides for a 3½ percent wage increase and an increase in pension from 8 to 9 percent. Wage scales at the restaurant are identical to the rates paid solo musicians under the Hotel Agreement.