League wants music copyists out of union

The battle lines are drawn.

If the League of American Theaters and Producers gets its way, music copyists will no longer be members of Local 802, the Associated Musicians of Greater New York.

The musicians’ contract with the league is up March 2. A big fight is expected over the union’s requirement of musician minimums for various Broadway theaters. Another major issue has been the inclusion of music copyists in the union.

As expected, the league filed a petition on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board regarding copyists, who are presently members of 802. The “unit clarification petition” seeks a determination that copyists are “independent contractors and not employees of our productions.”

Independent contractors, such as playwrights and composers, cannot be members of a union.

Memo makes point

Monday’s memo came from the office of Seth M. Popper, director of labor relations at the league. It was addressed to the org’s members.

The memo states: “The effect of our petition, if granted, will be the removal of copyists from the Local 802 collective bargaining unit, rendering league members free to contract with copying houses and copyists as they wish, effectively creating a market economy that is not based on minimum conditions currently established under the Local 802 agreement.”

Creating a musical score for a Broadway orchestra is an extremely complicated, laborious process. Most composers write a piano/vocal score, which is then expanded to a full score by an orchestrator. It is the music copyist’s job to extract the individual instrumental parts from that full score.

Representatives from the league and the union could not be reached for comment.

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