Strike threatens holiday classic

Musicians union targets Lincoln Center, 'Nutcracker' in danger

Local 802, the musicians union, spared the Rockettes and Santa Claus but the Sugar Plum Fairy may not be so lucky.

On Tuesday, opening night of the New York City Ballet, Local 802 called a strike against the Lincoln Center dance company. The action not only canceled the company’s gala fund-raiser but threatens its long run of usually sold-out performances of George Balanchine’s holiday classic “The Nutcracker,” which is to begin Friday.

It seems to be the season to strike — or at least, to think about it. Last week, Local 802 threatened to strike the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular.” However, on Monday, the union resolved its differences with Cablevision and inked an agreement that allowed the holiday extravaganza at Radio City Music Hall to continue without interruption.

Regarding NYCB, a Local 802 statement said the management has demanded more stringent orchestra attendance requirements, and rejected a union proposal to extend the previous contract for five months — “with a modest adjustment in wages” — in order to discuss the attendance issue, among others.

In a letter to the orchestra, ballet master-in-chief Peter Martins said that the musicians were “deliberately misled” by their bargaining committee: “In our talks … we had already conceded that the current membership of our orchestra would not be required to comply, and could choose to be grandfathered under the working conditions of the expired contract.” Those who voluntarily chose to increase their attendance would be offered higher compensation, Martins said.

Local 802 president Bill Moriarty commented, “We proposed a reasonable way around the dilemma we both faced and were stunned by management’s quick rejection.”