Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New York City Ballet In Labor Skirmish

Crains New York

American Guild of Musical Artists, the Union that represents ballet dancers filed an unfair labor practice charge on Monday, and took actions to block the company's plans to establish a smaller touring troupe.

On Monday, the American Guild of Musical Artists, AFL-CIO filed an unfair labor practice charge against the ballet and took actions to block the company's plans to establish a smaller touring troupe.

Last Thursday, the City Ballet announced plans to create a new touring ensemble as a way to expose new audiences around the country to the ballet at a lower cost for the organization.

According to its current agreement with the dancers union, the City Ballet is not allowed to conduct any tours that don't include the entire company unless it gets union consent, something it did not do.

“Until it secures AGMA's consent, NYCB may not conduct any tours which engage less than the entire company,” said Alan Gordon, national executive director of the union.

Union officials were also upset because the City Ballet announced the new touring program without consulting the union, while the two parties are involved in contract negotiations. AGMA and the City Ballet have been in somewhat contentious contract negotiations for the past six months. The contract expired last July.

The ballet asked for another one-year contract extension with a wage freeze, which would result in a third year with no wage increases for the dancers, according to Mr. Gordon. The dancers have refused to accept a wage freeze and are seeking a two-year contract with wage increases.

The City Ballet says it just received notice of the charge and is reviewing it.

"However, NYCB had previously told AGMA of its plans to develop smaller touring opportunities above and beyond the company's annual seasons, so AGMA was well aware of NYCB's intentions," according to a City Ballet statement. "We hope that the union will not stand in the way of additional work opportunities for its members."

Dancing to the unemployment line?

Broadcast Union News: No raises, smaller company to tour, violations of the collective bargaining agreement, makes me wonder how all this translates into "additional work opportunities for its members"?

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