Stamford Center Signs Contract

Volume CV, No. 12December, 2005

Jay Blumenthal

A new agreement has been reached between the Stamford Center for the Arts, AFM Local 52-626 (Norwalk, Conn.) and Local 802 for this season’s performances of the Nutcracker ballet at the Palace Theatre in Stamford, Conn.

Historically this work has been offered to members of the Stamford Symphony Orchestra. While negotiating a new contract with symphony, the union was told that we must keep the Nutcracker rates low. The union responded with a two-year freeze on the Nutcracker rates ($140 per service) and $150 in the third year.

Symphony management later informed us that the job had been lost even with the proposed freeze and the Stamford Center for the Arts was hiring the engagement independently.

It soon became known that musicians were being sent individual contracts for a rate significantly below the $140 per service rate. In addition, the musicians offered work were being hired as independent contractors. There was no travel allowance and no ability to use a sub if necessary.

Local 802 responded by sending out an e-mail blast asking all of our members to decline the work if offered and reject the work if already accepted until such time as an agreement could be reached between Local 802 and the Stamford Center for the Arts.

The contractor contacted Local 802 immediately. (He had recently joined the union.) He said he would stop contracting the engagement until an agreement was reached.

Shortly thereafter Local 802 was contacted by the Stamford Center for the Arts. Discussions ensued resulting in the following agreement:

  • The employer recognizes the union as the sole bargaining agent for the musicians.
  • Musicians will be hired as employees, not independent contractors.
  • $140 per service.
  • Concertmaster earns an additional premium of 100 percent.
  • Principal premium is 20 percent.
  • First double pays 20 percent; each additional pays 10 percent.
  • Travel is $7.50 per day.
  • Pension is 5 percent.
  • No dismissal except for just cause.
  • Harp to be reimbursed actual cost of cartage.
  • Musician may sub out one of the services.
  • Services canceled on less than two weeks notice will be paid in full.
  • Grievance and arbitration clause.
  • A ban on the virtual orchestra machine.

There is an understanding between the parties that musicians needed in addition to those already hired will be from the Stamford Symphony Orchestra.