The Great White Way is safe for musicals for the next half decade. Last week, the Broadway Musicians Union ratified a five-year contract with the League of American Theatres and Producers, the trade organization which represents the majority of theatrical producers and theatre owners. The new pact run until Mar. 2, 2003. The old, four-year contract officially expired Mar. 9.
The agreement ends seven months of negotiations which were termed "businesslike" by Bill Dennison, an official with Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians. The musicians won bumps in salary which will take them from the current $1,100 to $1,300 per week over the course of the deal. Members will also enjoy a 500 percent increase in instrument maintenance payments, which will leap from $10 to $50 a week. "We think it's a good agreement," said Dennison. "It preserves benefit and staff requirement that we think are appropriate."
Things looked dicey March 14, when the union scheduled a strike vote, but canceled it at the 11th hour when a tentative agreement was reached.
The union's agreement with Disney, the entertainment giant behind the Broadway's Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, also expired on Mar. 9. Disney never joined the League, breaking tradition by choosing to negotiate independently with the Broadway unions. Dennison told PBOL that Disney "was waiting to see the outcome of these talks" before it embarked on discussions with Local 802.
Livent, the Canadian company which produced Ragtime, recently rejoined the League after a two year absence, but still retains the right to negotiate separate labor deals. Its contract with the Musicians Union expires in March 1999. --By Robert Simonson