Rockettes Settle First National Contract
Entertainment Unions Take On Big Business
Volume CII, No. 10October, 2002
Paving the way for a chorus line instead of a picket line, the first national contract for the Radio City Rockettes was settled on Aug. 21. The Rockettes, who are represented by the American Guild of Variety Artists, had been in dispute with their employer, Radio City Music Hall, over tenure.
In early August Radio City, which is owned by Cablevision, unilaterally disbanded the primary hiring list, which put the jobs of 41 veteran Rockettes in jeopardy. Instead, the employer required that the dancers audition annually for their positions each year
The agreement reached was basically a buyout. Previously tenured dancers were offered between $27,000 and $120,000. The dancers were guaranteed spots in this year’s Christmas Spectacular, Radio City’s famous holiday show. Forty percent of the dancers will be guaranteed a place in next year’s show, but there are no guarantees for future years. This deal represents a substantial improvement over management’s first offer, which was $3,000 per year of employment for each dancer.
In the days just prior to the settlement, the Rockettes had been meeting at Local 802 to strategize and make picket signs.
“The Rockettes would like to thank Local 802 for helping us with the fight. The union has been wonderful,” said Lillian Colón, a member of the troupe.