Unions speak out against New York City Opera season

Posted on: July 12, 2011

In Tuesday’s (7/12) New York Times, Daniel J. Wakin writes, “A day before New York City Opera was to announce its first post-Lincoln Center season, the company’s unions charged on Monday that the company had made proposals for a new contract that would gut the chorus and the orchestra, and turn the ‘people’s opera’ into a freelance outfit. The unions released City Opera’s terms, which call for ending guaranteed weeks of work and number of members. It would eliminate vacation pay, tenure, leaves and the current health insurance plans. In addition, instrument insurance—an important perk paid for by American orchestras—would stop. Choristers and orchestra players would be paid only by the rehearsal and performance. … The company has long been living beyond its means. The general manager and artistic director, George Steel, and the board chairman, Charles Wall, have said major cuts are needed to reduce fixed costs, like those for the labor force. … The orchestra numbers 69 contracted members, but has 10 openings. Under the expired contract, members were guaranteed 22 weeks of work a year, with a base pay of $38,000. … Under the proposal, orchestra members would receive $345.05 per performance and $61.80 per rehearsal hour, higher than the typical freelance pay in New York.”

Posted July 12, 2011