Earlier this year, the New York City Opera orchestra ratified a new four-year agreement, which is in effect from June 1, 2005 through May 31, 2009. Even though the company said it had a deficit of just over $10 million, the negotiating committee still managed to secure modest increases in weekly wages, rehearsal rate, pension and seniority while maintaining hospitalization coverage and guaranteed weeks.
Wages and rehearsal rates in the first six months of the new contract are frozen at the previous year’s rates. A pay raise of 3.6 percent becomes effective this month. Year two brings a 3.3 percent increase in weekly wages and a 4.8 percent increase in the hourly rehearsal rate. With increases of 3.5 percent and 3.7 percent in the third and fourth years, we will achieve a total increase of 14.4 percent in weekly wages over the entire contract. For rehearsals, the total increase over the contract is 16.2 percent. Pension increases to 12.5 percent the fourth year. (The current rate is 11.5 percent.)
While both management and negotiating committee came to the bargaining table without attorneys present, the orchestra had the legal counsel of Susan Martin. This was Martin’s fourth negotiation with the NYCO in a “behind the scenes” role. She was crucial in providing guidance and offering a national perspective.
The negotiating committee was comprised of orchestra members Betsy Anderson, Mike Osrowitz, Frank Santonicola, Mark Shuman and myself. We thank 802 President David Lennon for his direction and support.