CriticalDance Forum

NYCB Musician Strike
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Author:  shag [ Sun Nov 28, 1999 8:36 am ]
Post subject:  NYCB Musician Strike

There is an article on the status of the musician strike on<BR> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P>The musicians have received NO support. Have they really gone that downhill or is NYCB winning the "spin" war?

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Nov 28, 1999 9:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Musician Strike

Incredible. I wonder why this isn't more of a news item.

Author:  shag [ Mon Nov 29, 1999 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Musician Strike

Here's the "party line."<P>AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PUBLIC FROM<BR>NYCB'S CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD<P>I believe it is necessary to explain to our public and to all of our employees, especially our<BR>musicians, what the New York City Ballet has been attempting to accomplish in its<BR>negotiations with the musicians' union.<P>First, we all understand that ballet is a marriage of music and dance. It is the music that<BR>inspires the choreographer. Balanchine was himself an accomplished musician.<P>Second, our orchestra consists of highly skilled musicians who, when they perform music<BR>they have all rehearsed together, play beautifully and enhance both the dancers' performance<BR>and the audience's pleasure. We believe our musicians care deeply about their art. And we<BR>think it is tragic that they are not playing Tschaikovsky's glorious music right now.<P>Third, most musicians in most orchestras supplement their income with teaching and other<BR>performing assignments. Those activities, however, are expected to be scheduled around the<BR>musician's primary commitment to the regular orchestra in which they perform. Every<BR>orchestra contract so provides-except for ours.<P>Fourth, over the years, the members of the NYCB orchestra have decided on their own<BR>whether or when to attend either rehearsals or performances. Many of our musicians are<BR>consistently conscientious about attending both; some are not, with the result that some<BR>performances are not satisfactory, either because some musicians are unrehearsed or<BR>because substitutes are likewise unprepared. No dancer ever appears in a performance<BR>without rehearsing his or her role.<P>Fifth, we want to present the finest possible performance to our audience, which has grown<BR>in size and sophistication, and which knows excellent dancing and excellent musicianship.<BR>We realized it would be unrealistic and unfair to expect musicians to give up a pattern to<BR>which they have become accustomed, and which might affect their income or lifestyle. And<BR>so we sought a compromise with two basic ingredients:<P>1. As an incentive, we proposed to pay more money to those musicians who would<BR>voluntarily adhere to more conventional performance work rules.<P>2. We agreed that any present member of the orchestra who does not elect to accept the<BR>new work rules could continue under the old rules and receive the same compensation as<BR>heretofore, including negotiated annual increases. Money is not an issue in this work<BR>stoppage.<P>We realize that this means a significantly higher orchestra cost for NYCB, but we were<BR>prepared to incur that expense as a way of assuring consistent quality in performance. We<BR>also proposed that all new orchestra members would have to accept the new work rules. We<BR>realized that it might take years before we could achieve our ultimate objective, but we felt<BR>this was the fairest and most acceptable way of improving our performances without taking<BR>anything away from the present orchestra members-which we have no desire to do.<P>So why did our musicians go out on strike? The union negotiating committee appears to have<BR>misled its own members by not telling them that the new system would not have to apply to<BR>them unless they volunteered for it. We find it difficult to believe that the committee's position<BR>represents the best interests of the orchestra, which is composed of serious musicians,<BR>whom we know take pride in their artistry and can so skillfully perform the most intricate<BR>scores that NYCB uses for its ballets. Why hasn't the musicians' union seriously discussed<BR>with us the proposed work rule changes and given us the benefit of their views, if they think<BR>the proposal is too onerous in one way or another, instead of subjecting a dedicated arts<BR>organization to a totally unwarranted strike?<P>After the sudden unnecessary walkout at our gala opening last week, is it unreasonable for<BR>the NYCB to ask for a commitment that the musicians not arbitrarily walk out again during our<BR>performance year, either by agreeing to compulsory arbitration or a no-strike pledge for our<BR>winter and spring seasons?<P>Haven't we demonstrated our respect for our musicians and showed utmost good faith by<BR>asking for no concessions at all from any of them and offering them unprecedented<BR>inducements?<P>I wish someone could answer these questions. In the meantime, we want to assure Peter<BR>Martins and our management that the Board fully supports them. We also want to thank our<BR>wonderful dancers and stagehands and all the other staff who are enabling us to perform<BR>George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, and to share the joy and beauty of that masterpiece<BR>with the more than 120,000 grown-ups and children who will enjoy it this holiday season.<P>This is a stand for artistic quality. We are grateful to all those who have stood by us in this<BR>time, especially our audiences for their loyalty and understanding.<P>Howard Solomon<BR>Chairman of the Board<BR>New York City Ballet<BR>

Author:  Michael [ Mon Nov 29, 1999 6:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Musician Strike

Amazing. Is there anything on the union's position and rationale for striking?<BR>

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Nov 29, 1999 10:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Musician Strike

I would really to hear the musicians' point of view, as the official NYCB letter seems on the ball to me.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Nov 29, 1999 10:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Musician Strike

I have seen comments that lay the blame for the strike at the door of the management for their mis-handling of the negotiation process. The thrust of this argument is that management knew about this problem in September when the previous contract expired and they did nothing about opening negotiations until 2 days before the Gala. <BR>Thus, while the arguments of management may have merit, they should have been prepared to negotiate in a reasonable time-scale and not expect their demands to be a fait accompli.

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Nov 29, 1999 10:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Musician Strike

This reminds me of the SF Symphony strike/s from several years ago. Management, while being hard-nosed with the musicians, tried to put up a civil front for the masses. It may have made them look good in the papers but it didn't help matters that they laid blame squarely on the musicians, trying to make them look stupid. Thank god someone who had clout finally realized they had to bring in new management that was more proactive in seeking the musicians' input on a regular basis, prior to letting things get to the "antagonism" stage.

Author:  Azlan [ Tue Nov 30, 1999 11:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Musician Strike

Interesting. I received this same open letter in an email. This seems to indicate that the NYCB board is really determined to do battle in the public arena. This is not good. All it succeeds in doing is antagonizing the musicians. This should be handled privately with compassion. Just for argument's sake, even if the striking party are idiots, it looks bad for management to point that out. Most people view a company like NYCB as a whole. If the musicians are made to look bad, then the whole company looks bad. This is not good.

Author:  Mikal [ Tue Nov 30, 1999 1:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Musician Strike

HI,<BR>There has been a big discussion about this topic on Alt Arts Ballet.<BR>Most of the dancers on line feel the company is right. The news is far reaching. In Salt Lake City, there was a news blip about the fact that the musicians were on strike and the dancers had to use tape.<BR>It felt like it gave more sympathy to the dancers than the striking musicians.<BR>From what has been written presently and past about the orchestra playing for City Ballet, they are not losing by using tape.<BR>The musicians are not doing a proper job.<BR>Hiring subs who have not rehearsed, and throwing off the dancers.<BR>And they make more money than the dancers.<BR>So, naturally the dancers could care less.<BR>Actually, I know live music is a plus for a performance, but it is comforting to know that on the tape, you know exactly when the "boom" is going to come. How many heartbeats, or counts. With an orchestra that has not done proper rehearsals, you don't know, and your heart is beating double time.<BR>I agree with the dancers...<BR>And the management point of view.<BR>bek<P>------------------<BR>bek

Author:  Azlan [ Wed Dec 01, 1999 5:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Musician Strike

So, they *are* using taped music for "Nutcracker":<BR> <A HREF=",2107,500063622-500105255-500471631-0,00.html" TARGET=_blank>,2107,500063622-500105255-500471631-0,00.html</A>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Dec 06, 1999 1:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Musician Strike

Here is a news release about the NY musicians strike. Let's hope that the two sides will be able to reach agreement.<P><BR>NEW YORK (December 6, 1999 2:12 p.m. EST <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> - A musicians' union has reached a<BR>tentative agreement in a dispute that forced the New York City Ballet to present "The Nutcracker" with recorded<BR>music, a union official said Monday. <P>Judy West, spokeswoman for Local 802 of the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, said a ratification<BR>vote was scheduled later Monday. Results were expected Tuesday. <P>There was no immediate comment from the ballet company or Lincoln Center. <P>The 63 musicians and the ballet were at odds over attendance clauses requiring new orchestra members to<BR>attend extra practices and performances, not specified in the current contract. The ballet company called the<BR>walkout a "strike"; the union said it was a "lockout." <P>After the musicians walked out and set up picket lines, several performances of Tchaikovsky's Christmas<BR>classic were presented using a recording of the orchestra. Some theater-goers said they couldn't tell the<BR>difference, while others suggested the music on tape sounded flat. <P>

Author:  pidge [ Mon Dec 06, 1999 3:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Musician Strike

<BR>Can someone explain to me who is playing on teh taped version of Nuts NYCB is using? I have heard (no clue if it's right or wrong) that in the past, recorded versions of an orchestra that is on strike cannot be used due to some sort of union rules. If NYCB has been using live music for the Nutcracker since it was choreographed, how could they have gotten a none union recording of Nutcracker? Did the Musicians Union not exist in the 50's? Does this question make any sense? Hope so Image<P>pidge

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Dec 06, 1999 8:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Musician Strike

According to my latest sources, the ratification vote began at 4pm EST.<P>Here's an update:<BR> <A HREF=",2469,500139191-500163694-500585973-0,00.html" TARGET=_blank>,2469,500139191-500163694-500585973-0,00.html</A>

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Dec 06, 1999 8:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NYCB Musician Strike

Pidge, interesting question. Hmm, let's see if any of my sources know the answer to this one.

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