Orchestra of St. Luke’s Sets the Pace — Again!

Volume CIX, No. 3March, 2009

Jay Blumenthal
Click for larger image.
Photo by Carol Cohn

The Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Local 802 have reached a tentative agreement over terms and conditions for their successor contract.

In 2004, during their prior contract negotiation, St. Luke’s asked to do a four-year deal instead of the more traditional three-year term.

Since management was willing to place significant improvements in the fourth year, Local 802 agreed.

This time, St. Luke’s and the union settled on a three-year contract. Wages continue to remain above the classical freelance scale. 

Some highlights in the new contract include:

  • Performance wages increase 11.8 percent over three years to $264 from $236.
  • Rehearsal wages increase 19.5 percent over three years to $55 per hour from $46.
  • Cartage for small instruments increases 22 percent over three years to $33 from $27.
  • Cartage for bass increases 28.5 percent over three years to $45 from $35.
  • Pension increases to 16 percent in the third year of the contract
  • Health contributions increase as per classical freelance scale
  • Every six months, the health benefits shortfall fund will pay up to a maximum of $500 per musician if needed to aid in making Plan A or Plan B.

During the negotiations, management did express concern about certain third-party clients who hire the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. These clients may be experiencing difficulties during these turbulent economic times and the question was how to preserve this work for the musicians. The union and orchestra committee addressed this concern by temporarily suspending a clause in the contract that applies to engagements at the Caramoor Festival. The suspended clause contains a weekly minimum requirement. This temporary suspension of the clause will be up for review in November of this year.

Musicians ratified the contract on Feb. 17.

Members of the St. Luke’s Orchestra Committee include Carl Albach, Joe Anderer, Barry Centanni, David Cerutti, Daire Fitzgerald, Anca Nicolau and Michael Powell. Concert Rep Karen Fisher, 802 attorney Harvey Mars and I also participated in the negotiations.