Members of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians ratified a new three-year contract with the Lincoln Center ballet company, ending a two-week strike that had forced the company’s management to use taped music for its annual December run of “Nutcracker” performances.
A rep for Local 802 confirmed that 43 union members voted to approve the contract, with 19 casting votes against it.
Financially, the contract calls for a 3.7% increase to the base wage for musicians in the first year, with 3.5% increases coming in the second and third years, respectively. Improvements were also made in pension and benefits.
Previously, base salary had been $35,000 for a 23-week employment year, with the average player earning $66,000 a year after benefits and seniority were added.
The most contentious issue, however, had been the orchestra’s attendance at rehearsals and performances.
“Music is the foundation upon which ballet is built, and this contract strengthens our foundation,” said ballet master-in-chief Peter Martins.
The new contract requires each player to attend no less than 75% of rehearsals and 70% of performances. It also stipulates certain “designated ballets,” at which orchestra members are required to attend all performances of “premier works and those with challenging scores.”