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Labor Pains at TWB


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#16 Mel Johnson

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Posted 18 December 2005 - 08:08 AM

At this writing the distinction is academic. We are dealing with journalism now, which is the raw material of history. The question of whether it is a strike or a lockout, or both, will have to wait until all the data are in and can be interpreted dispassionately.

#17 bart

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 04:19 PM

According to the Washington Post (in today's LINKS).

http://www.washingto...5121601734.html

QUOTE:
"The dancers were to begin rehearsals Jan. 3 for their next production, "The Bach/Beatles Project," slated to open a five-day run at the Kennedy Center on Feb. 1. That schedule is now in doubt, Palmquist said.

"The dancers are still on strike," he said, "so we have no assurances that they would even be available for rehearsals. We are currently evaluating the effect of having to cancel 'The Nutcracker' on our ability to make the rest of the season happen."

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I realize that management and union are both, to an extent, engaged in public relations exercises -- and that control of the vocabulary is a major way one can control the debate. But -- isn't "strike" something that has to be voted on and declared by the workers? Which hasn't happened. Very strange. As is the manipulation of language in the current NYC transit strike.

#18 Mel Johnson

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 04:24 PM

We should take a tip from the Mikado in the opera-comique of the same name and "reserve judgment for six months, and argue it before the full court."

#19 Amy Reusch

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 09:31 PM

I'm curious about this bit about the rehearsals being overly grueling... I wish someone would give some details so we might have a sense of where the balance of truth lies.

#20 Helene

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 10:02 PM

If a dancer, union spokesman, or company representative comes forward to discuss this topic, we'll be sure to link to it.

#21 socalgal

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 09:28 AM

I thought that I read in one of the newspaper articles that the dancers did vote to strike. And one of the issues mentioned in the papers was that the dancers supporting these actions were feeling threatened by company management for vocalizing their dissatisfactions. I am so sorry for all at WB. And lets hope that they can work out all their differences.

#22 bart

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 11:51 AM

The Post article mentions the following:

QUOTE:
"In general, money is not the source of the dispute as much as control over rehearsals, hiring and dismissals, the size of the company and how students at the ballet's affiliated school may be used in productions."

We don't want to speculate about the facts in this particular case, but -- does anyone know facts about how other unionized companies deal with such issues? I am particularly puzzled about the question of "hiring and firing," -- and the issue of job security generally -- which I assumed was always something controlled by the AD.

#23 Bill

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Posted 22 December 2005 - 08:41 AM

More from Sarah Kaufman at the Washington Post on the labor troubles:

http://www.washingto...5122102275.html

#24 Bill

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Posted 24 December 2005 - 08:15 AM

The union and TWB management are now before the NLRB, and more cancellations have been announced. This is very bad. The Washington Post reports:

http://www.washingto...5122301644.html

#25 bart

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Posted 24 December 2005 - 08:41 AM

A very sad story.

I am still confused about this word "strike."

QUOTE FROM WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE:

"Dancers maintain they are not on strike but are victims of an unreasonably harsh lockout by management.

"The company insists the dancers effectively went on strike during "Nutcracker" when an interim agreement on a work contract fell through.

"There has been labor conflict at the ballet since late last year, when the 20 dancers began efforts to unionize.

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All articles linked above refer to (a) the dancers' unionization and (b) the breakdown in contract negotiations. By what standards do either of these events constitute a strike? I need enlightenment.

#26 Treefrog

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 01:20 PM

This is indeed very ugly.

I, too, am confused by the word "strike". I know all contracts are not alike, but in our faculty contract the workers must 1) vote to strike, and 2) give management 10 days' notice of intent to strike. It is very clear what is a strike, and what is not.

It sounds as though management is confused by the concept of a contract. (Our administration is fond of calling the contract "your contract", as though they weren't signatories and the contract was something we imposed on them. We have to remind them that it is "their" contract as well. I think this distinction comes about because labor contracts generally curb abuses of power by management. Management thus feels contrained. I suspect this is especially true of new contracts.) I'll be interested to see what the NLRB rules.

#27 Bill

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 01:14 PM

Here is a link to the AGMA (dancers' union) website, with its press release and a copy of the interim agreement that was briefly on the table:

http://www.musicalar...kOutArticle.htm

And in the interest of equal time, here is a link to the Washington Ballet website - all I could find on the situation was the Nutcracker cancellation page:

http://www.washingto...pcoming2003.htm

#28 koshka

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 07:02 PM

Thanks, Bill. I'm no particular expert in labor contracts, much less those for performing artists.

Does anyone know if the working hour conditions are in line with industry standards?

The stipulation that appropriate flooring be provided seems eminently reasonable. I wonder if things came to a head at this juncture because there were some private performances on the schedule--might these have been in venues with inappropriate flooring?

The stipulation that nonrenewal of contracts would be subject to usual grievance procedures seems nonstandard for performing arts--comments?

Earlier reports indicated that rehearsals were due to restart on January 3, so I would imagine that there will be some news one way or the other soon.

#29 bart

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 06:01 AM

Good questions, koshka.

The following union statement (from Bill's link) seems to complicate the strike v. lockout situation (see second paragraph):

QUOTE:
"Exhausted by an unlimited rehearsal and performance schedule and becoming injured at an alarming rate, the dancers told their management, at a December 12 bargaining session, which looked more like a conglomeration of the walking wounded than a group of skilled artists, that they had no option but to insist upon a binding, enforceable interim agreement that protected their health and their safety and their jobs now, even as negotiations toward a collective bargaining agreement dragged on.

"They told the Ballet that commencing with the December 15 evening performance, they would not perform in Nutcracker until an interim agreement was concluded.

"The Company’s immediate response, refusing to meet with AGMA & the dancers, was to cancel the next two rehearsals and then, after again refusing to meet with AGMA, cancelled the rest of the Nutcracker performances."

#30 Natalia

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 09:19 AM

Has any official work come out regarding the rest of the season? My understanding is that most professional ballet troupes count on 'Nutcracker season' revenues to foot the bill for the remainder of the season. The cancellation of 'Nutcracker' must have made a terrible hole in the operating budget for the rest of the season.


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