Negotiations Roundup

Volume CV, No. 6June, 2005

Merce Cunningham Dance Company. 802 has reached an agreement with the dance company covering a week of performances of a composition entitled “Ocean.” This engagement will employ a minimum of 112 musicians from July 11-16. “Ocean” was last performed in New York in 1996 at which time special wage considerations were given due to the unusual number of musicians employed. Performance wages will be $165 for two hours or less. Rehearsals pay is $39 per hour. The dress rehearsal will pay as a performance but may last up to 2.5 hours before overtime commences. Cartage for double bass is $25 per round trip and $15 for other cartage instruments. Actual cost of cartage will be paid to musicians playing harp, timpani and other comparably bulky instruments. A total health contribution of $75 for each musician covered by this agreement will be paid to the Local 802 Health Benefits Plan. In addition, the employer will contribute 13 percent of total gross contractual pay for the benefit of each musician to the AFM pension fund. This agreement includes a virtual orchestra machine ban, electronic filing language and a grievance and arbitration procedure.

New York Camerata. Last summer, a number of musicians called Local 802 to report a nonunion engagement. The musicians had been hired to play with New York Camerata at Alice Tully Hall on May 27, 2004. They reported that the employer was paying significantly under scale, wasn’t paying benefits, and had even threatened to fine musicians who came to rehearsals without a pencil or who lost their music.

In response, Financial Vice President Jay Blumenthal and a number of 802 staff showed up unannounced at the dress rehearsal. When Executive Director Kataryna Owen and Music Director Richard Owen saw that the musicians strongly supported Local 802’s efforts to improve conditions on the engagement, Camerata signed an agreement to pay musicians an additional $100 in wages and to negotiate over a collective bargaining agreement for future engagements.

However, Camerata subsequently reneged on this agreement, and 802 was forced to file charges at the New York State Employment Relations Board.

After months of delays and postponements, the employer finally agreed to negotiate a voluntary settlement. Camerata will pay the musicians the $100 that was promised, and will also pay full-scale wages and benefits for all future engagements at major venues in New York. The agreement also calls for a ban on the virtual orchestra machine.