Union Says Washington Ballet Fired Dancers Because of Union Ties

Classic Arts News   Union Says Washington Ballet Fired Dancers Because of Union Ties
[From our archives in 2005.]

Washington Ballet has declined to rehire two dancers who testified in favor of unionization at the company, according to the American Guild of Musical Artists.

The dancers appeared at a National Labor Relations Board hearing on January 5. The NLRB later ordered a vote on unionization, and the company's dancers voted to join AGMA on February 14.

In a statement, the union said that the two dancers, Nikkia Parish and Brian Corman, were also the only members of Washington Ballet who had previously belonged to AGMA.

"The real reason for firing the two dancers who testified for the union at a government hearing was to chill the free exercise of the dancers' rights and send a message to the other dancers," said AGMA executive director Alan Gordon. "It's not only illegal and unconscionable, but still another example of the kind of cavalier management that led the dancers to unionize in the first place."

A spokesperson for the company denied that the dancers had been fired because of their support for the union, but declined to say why they were not hired for next season.

"The Washington Ballet respects our employee's right to privacy; therefore we feel it is inappropriate to comment on the specifics of the charge filed by the union, except to say that the charge is completely unfounded, and we vigorously deny the allegations that the union has made," executive director Jason Palmquist said in a statement.

"From the beginning," he added, "we have supported our dancers' right to choose whether to be represented by a union, and we continue to hope that the process of negotiating a first contract with AGMA will be a fruitful and respectful one."

Recommended Reading: