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Musicians, League Unsettled on New Pact

The existing Broadway contract between the Musicians' Union and the League of American Theatres and Producers expires on Sun., March 8. At press time, the negotiators had not finalized a new agreement.

Bill Moriarity, president of Local 802, said he has not set a deadline, nor does he plan to threaten with a strike vote as long as negotiations continue to proceed at an agreeable pace.

"However, I will advise my members that I may need to have them for an emergency meeting to discuss [a strike vote]," said Moriarity.

"We have had nine meetings or so. Both sides had a number of proposals which we each put on the table in six of those meetings. We have had two or three in which we have done some small negotiations," said the union leader.

If Sunday ends without a contract, both sides will continue to adhere to the existing pact, as long as negotiations continue successfully, said Moriarity. When a new one is implemented, all salary and benefit changes would be retroactive.

The main concerns of the 802 deal with safety in the orchestra pits. The Union is demanding changes in policies regarding both sound levels and smoke and fog spilling off the stage and into the pit.

Moriarity said that some pits reach 115 decibles, and with 8 performances a week, that can be damaging to the performers' ears. The smoke effects, he said, often sit in the pit for extended amounts of time, causing respiratory problems for some of the players. The union has detailed structural changes and ventilation alterations that will supposedly alleviate both problems.

"There is a tentative agreement that 'High Society' will be a test case for our proposals," said Moriarity.

The pit at the St. James Theatre may have structures added or changed to alleviate the sound levels.

Aside from health and safety concerns, Moriarity is also negotiating for "the usual" pay increases for Broadway musicians.

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