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Local 802 and the Club Date Musicians’ Committee reached an agreement with club date employers on April 19 for a new Single Engagement Club Date contract.
After difficult negotiations with employers, represented at the bargaining table by Hank Lane, Steven Scott and Starlight Orchestras, a four-year agreement was reached that addressed major concerns with health benefits, timeliness of filing engagement reports, parking reimbursements, pension and — of course — wages.
For much of the negotiations, employers insisted on a two-year wage freeze and offered no increases in pension or parking, citing a stagnant economy as rationalization.
The previous agreement, negotiated in the first half of 2001, had netted unprecedented increases in a much more favorable economic climate. The events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent downturn in the economy, prompted representatives of several club date employers to come to Local 802 seeking concessions.
Their requests were denied, but we realized that, unless the economy improved dramatically, the 2004 negotiations would be very different.
In preparing for negotiations, the Club Date Committee held several meetings with musicians to develop proposals. What resulted was a short list of proposals that addressed the core concerns of the members working in the field.
Recording Vice President Bill Dennison, Local 802 attorney Lenny Leibowitz, and committee chair Art Weiss led the negotiations, assisted by committee members Bobby Shankin and Al Hood, and staff from the Contract Administration Department.
802’s Executive Board approved the agreement and on May 7 eligible members voted to ratify by a large margin.
The highlights of the new contract are:
- Automatic increases in health benefit contributions if Plan A or Plan B eligibility rates increase.
- Guaranteed Plan B coverage for musicians doing 18 or more jobs.
- An increase in parking reimbursement for cartage musicians working in Manhattan to $35 effective June 1, 2004.
- Elimination of the parking reimbursement time restrictions for above musicians.
- Parking reimbursement for non-cartage musicians working three-hour weekday engagements in Manhattan of $6 beginning April 15, 2006 and $8 beginning April 15, 2007.
- Increased pension contributions; to 9.5 percent (from the current 9 percent) on April 15, 2006 and to 10 percent on April 15, 2007.
- Wage increases averaging 12 percent over the term of the contract.