NY Pops Sign Deal

First Freelance Orchestra to Renew Contract

Volume CV, No. 1January, 2005

On Dec. 13 the New York Pops signed its new contract with Local 802.

As Allegro went to press, the union’s Executive Board had approved the deal, which now goes to the musicians for ratification.

This leads the way for the other freelance orchestras to sign agreements with the union.

The two benchmark indicators in the freelance classical agreement are wages and pension.

In the last contract, musicians earned $200 for a performance. Musicians will now earn performance wages of $208 in the first year of the new contract, $216 in the second and $225 in the third.

Pension will rise to 14 percent in the third year of the contract. (Pension remains at 13 percent in years one and two.)

The contract also contains a ban on the virtual orchestra machine, which is important since most of the freelance orchestra agreements contain ballet and opera provisions.

The other terms of the deal will be distributed to musicians for ratification. For the most up-to-date information on wages, see the union’s web site, under “Wage and Contract Info.”

Freelance musicians voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike on Dec. 10. This means that Local 802 was and is empowered to strike any and all freelance concert orchestras and has the backing of musicians to do so.

Musicians were forced to contemplate a strike because management had held to its position of a wage freeze in the first year of the contract. However, the New York Pops agreement leads the way in moving forward.

Local 802 typically negotiates with several freelance orchestras at once, and once a deal is made with one, the others sign on to the deal.

Besides the Pops, the other freelance orchestras are the American Composers Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Bronx Arts Ensemble, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Little Orchestra Society, Long Island Philharmonic, Opera Orchestra of New York, Queens Symphony and Riverside Symphony.