Teaching artists make gains

Volume 112, No. 7/8July, 2012

Teaching Artists recently ratified a new two-year contract at Midori & Friends, the music education organization. Minimums will increase to $53 per class at the end of the contract. Teachers won a 3 percent raise in the first year and a 3.5 percent raise in the second year. Rates for mentoring and professional development increased as well.

Musicians first achieved a union at Midori & Friends in 2001. Saxophonist and Local 802 member Sean Lyons was one of the prime organizers of the union drive.

“Union representation has made a huge difference in my life and the lives of my fellow teaching artists,” Lyons told Allegro.

Lyons added, “I remember what it was like before we were able to demand health contributions, pension, annual wage increases, job security, seniority, and all the great things that come along with a union contract. Previously we had no power or input at all and thus suffered the consequences. But unionizing changed all of that.”

The new contract will be the fourth one for teaching artists.

Health benefits increase to $9.50 per class over the lifetime of the contract. And, for the first time, pension contributions will be paid when a teaching artist begins work, rather than retroactively at the end of the year if she or he is hired to teach the following year.

Scheduling and cancellation policies were also clarified.

“As usual, we had to fight tooth and nail, but it was well worth our efforts to secure our continuing gains that otherwise would be non-existent,” said Lyons.

‘Gilbert and Sullivan in Briefs’

“Gilbert and Sullivan in Briefs” ran June 21 to July 1 at the Queens Theatre, with seven performances per week. This production was covered under Local 802’s theatrical showcase rules and regulations. Musicians earned a weekly minimum scale of $600, with a 40 percent premium for the music Director. Health contributions paid $72 per week, and the pension paid 9.81 percent.

This is the first time Local 802 has had an agreement with the Queens Theatre.

“Local 802 was very excited to be working with the Queens Theatre for this production and looks forward to partnering with the theatre on future musical productions,” said Local 802 theatre rep Theresa Couture.

S.E.M. Ensemble

The S.E.M. Ensemble has signed a new three-year agreement. Compensation is paid at Local 802 classical concert scale rates when they perform in major venues.

Gotham Chamber Opera

The musicians of the Gotham Chamber Opera recently ratified a new three-year agreement. Musicians earn wages and benefits at the single engagement concert rates in effect at the time of the engagement. A new provision for workshops was added to the contract, as well as an expansion of the number of allowable archival and grant recordings per season.

Thanks to Theresa Couture, Karen Fisher and Marisa Friedman for the stories in this column.