New Club Date Agreement Reached

Volume CVIII, No. 7/8July, 2008

Click for larger image.
Musicians who perform with the Alex donner band enjoy the benefits of the Local 802 club date agreement.

A new four-year agreement was reached with club date employers on April 15, replacing the previous agreement that expired the day before. The new contract was ratified by a wide margin in voting on May 20 and 21.

The negotiations were led by Recording Vice President Bill Dennison, who told Allegro, “I’m pleased we were able to successfully address the two most important issues for our members working in this field: continued access to health benefits and an improvement in wages.”

A survey conducted by Local 802 of the more than 300 musicians working regularly in the field indicated that the chief concerns were overhauling health benefit contribution language and securing wage increases, especially for weekday engagements.

With recent increases in union health plan eligibility rates, it had become increasingly difficult for club date musicians to qualify for the Plan A level of benefits.

Under an escalator clause in the old agreement, the contribution level increased to $28 per musician per engagement, requiring musicians to perform 50 jobs in a six-month period to qualify for Plan A at the $1,400 rate.

Prior to the eligibility rate increase, only 47 jobs in a six-month period were needed for Plan A.

One of the goals of this negotiation was to make it easier for more musicians to qualify for health benefits. This was accomplished by eliminating the “program employer” health benefit provision that had been in the contract since the mid-90’s.

The program employer provision allowed certain employers to save money in overall contributions in return for a guarantee that musicians who perform regularly with those employers would consistently have health benefits from period to period. But the program no longer worked in two respects.

First, only one employer in the secular club date field had any musicians that qualified for Plan A under the program employer provisions.

Second, there was widespread speculation that employers may have had an incentive to keep musicians from performing 47 jobs per period, thereby lowering their overall costs.

The new health benefit provision raises the per-job contribution to $30, thus lowering the eligibility back to 47 jobs.

In addition, the eligibility is lowered to 40 jobs per six-month period if those 40 jobs are worked for any single employer.

The employers’ cost per musician per engagement goes down in proportion to how many musicians they have on Plan A, thus increasing their incentive to put more musicians on the health plan.

As was the case under the previous contract, if a musician is on plan A for one period they will be guaranteed Plan A for the following period.

There will be similar savings and guarantees for Plan B.

The health contribution increase to $30 per musician per engagement is effective as of May 1, with incremental increases annually up to an additional $5 in the event of plan eligibility level increases.

Scale wages increased more than 13 percent over the life of the contract.

  • Saturday night rises to $340 from $300.
  • Sunday four-hour scale rises to $245 from $220.
  • Weekday four-hour scale rises to $230 from $205.
  • Sunday three-hour scale rises to $200 from $180.
  • Three-hour weekday scale rises to $205 from $175.

“The three-hour weekday rate will go up over 17 percent during this agreement,” said Contract Department Supervisor Jim Hannen, “with most of that increase coming in the first two years. Getting a substantial increase in that weekday rate was an important achievement.”

In the old contract, cartage paid $11 (or $13.50 for drummers). The new contract pays $15 for all cartage musicians.

Parking for cartage players working in Manhattan increased to $40 from $35. Parking for non-cartage musicians performing three-hour weekday engagements rose to $10 from $8.

Initial increases are effective June 1.

There were also increases in car rates, air mileage and layovers for out of town jobs.

Pension, which currently pays 10 percent, increases to 10.25 percent in the last year of the agreement.

A complete summary of the agreement will be available soon in the members’ section of this site.

Printed summary scale sheets are available on the third floor and at our Long Island office. Complete agreements will be printed and available soon.

The officers and staff involved in the negotiations would like to thank the negotiating committee, including Bobby Shankin (chair) and Al Hood, for their dedication and hard work and all the musicians who participated by attending meetings and providing valuable input. Staff members involved in the negotiations were Peter Voccola, Richard Schilio and Frank DeFillippi.