The Off Broadway Theatre Committee and Local 802 have successfully negotiated a new five-year agreement with the nonprofit employers who had previously been under three separate agreements, including the Association of Nonprofit Theatre Companies, Not For Profit Theatres and Irish Repertory Theatre. The Signature Theatre Company also participated in the negotiations and signed onto this contract. This extensive undertaking took two years to complete. Overall, there were many updates, corrections and additions to the language of the previous contracts. The full list of theatres covered by the agreement include the Second Stage Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, New York Shakespeare Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, Atlantic Theater Company, Classic Stage Company, MCC Theater, The New Group, Vineyard Theatre, Irish Repertory Theatre and Signature Theater Company.
The driving bargaining motivation for this contract was to obtain a liveable wage and increase health contributions. We succeeded in both, obtaining a 42 and 216.5 percent increase in health contributions by August 2021 (depending on the tier) and a total 27.5 percent increase in wages by August 2023. Rehearsal wages have increased anywhere from 8 to 60 percent (depending on the tier).
Several rates for premiums have increased, and performance and holiday premiums have been added. The costume premium has increased by 37 percent and 230 percent (depending on the tier), and language for separate costumed-musician changing areas has been added. Additionally, several terms have been changed to benefit musicians. The term “synthesizer” has been replaced with the more appropriate and broad-ranging term “electronic instrument.” There is now a “bulky instrument” term that includes cartage and rental fees. The in-house playing contractor language has been updated to more clearly define the role. All doubles are now calculated on a base wage, and the first and second double are now inclusive.
New additions to the contract include the creation of a Labor Management Committee to address issues, including health and safety. Also, musicians will be able to contribute to the 401(k) program that Local 802 is establishing soon.
Anyone interested in participating in the Off Broadway Theatre Committee may contact me at Slyon19@gmail.com or Local 802 Theatre Business Rep Theresa Couture at Tcouture@Local802afm.org. We hope to work toward better representation of musicians who work in the Off Broadway field and to create an environment welcoming new musicians who wish to pursue this work.