Union 1-ups Disney’s ‘King’

NEW YORK — Broadway musicians apparently got their man Monday in an 11th-hour contract agreement with the Walt Disney Co.: The orchestra pit for “The Lion King” will include 24 players, one more than Disney wanted.

The agreement forestalls a threatened unfair labor grievance over “The Lion King.” The musical begins previews Wednesday at Disney’s New Amsterdam Theater.

Although Disney would not confirm the agreement Monday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the musicians’ union Local 802 said a pact had been reached. The two sides have been negotiating since March on a Broadway labor contract.

The sticking point of negotiations has been the issue of minimums. The wrangling came down to a single player: The union demanded that Disney maintain a minimum of 24 musicians while Disney wanted to employ only 23.

A Disney spokesman said Monday the company was still reviewing the language of the contract.

“We are pleased that Disney has agreed to accept the standards for musicians on Broadway that we have worked so long and hard to maintain,” said Bill Moriarity, Local 802 prexy.

According to the union, the contract takes effect Wednesday and runs through March 8, the same date the union’s contract with the League of American Theaters & Producers expires.

Disney, which is not a League member, likely will renegotiate its contract with the union separately at that time.

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