LATEST UPDATES REGARDING MUSICIAN NEGOTIATIONS
To all DCINY musicians and participants,
First, we would like to say that everyone here at DCINY is looking forward to hosting you and eagerly anticipates watching your performance. We have been in this business for 15 years because of our love of music and because we recognize the ability to change lives through the power of musical performance.
It is in this spirit that we are reaching out to you regarding a disturbing letter that we were made aware of that was sent to you by Local 802, which was grossly misleading and frankly, riddled with false statements. While our approach is and has always been to negotiate directly with the union and not resort to antics such as the letters they sent, we understand that their message would rightly raise questions. You deserve to know the truth and you deserve to perform without any question that DCINY values all musicians.
To respond to Local 802’s letter. They state:
- “DCINY’s stance has been blatantly insulting to both the art and the artist. And it was only after the musicians unionized that the company began replacing its professional orchestra.”
We have not replaced our professional orchestra. We have always hosted concerts with a variety of musical accompaniment, sometimes with our professional orchestra, sometimes with student musicians, and sometimes with guest artists.
- “After refusing to schedule negotiations for many months…”
While it is true that there was a period of months when the parties did not meet, the union fails to mention this was starting in March, 2020, when the entire nation was in lockdown due to Covid. It is preposterous to claim we were unwilling to negotiate when our operations were shutdown.
- “…the company was charged with several Unfair Labor Practices through the National Labor Relations Board.”
The NLRB has thrown out virtually all charges brought against DCINY, while settling others in order to avoid costly, unnecessary litigation.
- “In January, our negotiations committee and DCINY agreed to submit to federal mediation, hoping that a neutral party could forge a way forward, but this broke down when DCINY refused the mediator’s suggestions that they bargain a fair hiring proposal.”
In fact, we were made aware through the mediator that the union had rejected the recommendations from the same mediator.
- “To fill its ranks, the company is using vastly underpaid or volunteer non-union and student musicians who are largely unaware of the situation.”
DCINY is open and fair in its hiring terms, which have not changed since prior to the union winning representation. And we are proud to offer opportunities to students on occasion. It is sad that the Union is seeking to take away or belittle those opportunities!
DCINY has negotiated with the union in good faith and shares its goal of providing opportunities for all musicians in a fair and equitable way. We have been very disappointed to see union musicians rally outside concerts featuring high school concert bands and choral music, and misrepresent these performances as a replacement of a full orchestra for orchestral programming. DCINY has already made numerous compromises, with the goal of reaching consensus. It sent to the union its complete and final proposal on February 5 and now it is in the union’s hands.
Talks between DCINY and the union have not broken down, and we’ve reached agreement with the Union on many points. But the union is refusing to agree with DCINY on a contract that is equitable to ALL musicians that have performed with us and would like to continue performing with us. Central to their demands is their requirement that DCINY give priority in hiring to a select group of musicians chosen by Local 802, limiting opportunities for other musicians. This does not align with our values or our goals to provide programs that are equitable to all musicians.
Musicians and partners who have worked with us for years know who we are and what we stand for. We believe in taking care of our musicians—all musicians. To be clear: We are not anti-union. But we will not be coerced into changing our business model and meeting the demands of Local 802 that would mean limiting opportunities for all musicians for the sake of their preferred few. That has never been what DCINY is about—nor will it ever be.
Again, we look forward to hosting you and want you to rest assured that you will be performing in an environment where you will be welcomed, safe, and celebrated. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions at all.
Iris and Jonathan
We write to share with you an update concerning our ongoing negotiations with Local 802, AFM. Contrary to what you may have heard, talks between DCINY and the union have not “broken down” and many points have reached agreement. But the union is refusing to agree with DCINY on a contract that is equitable to ALL musicians that have performed with us and would like to continue performing with us. Central to their demands is their requirement that DCINY give priority in hiring to a select few musicians chosen by Local 802 and over all of the rest of you. Here is where we are:
DCINY is committed to balancing our mission to provide performance opportunities for amateur, educational, and pre-professional vocal ensembles from around the world while providing opportunities to hire orchestra members as dictated by the needs of our clients and repertoire. To that end, we have negotiated with Local 802 in good faith, and the parties have reached agreement on many items as you can see on the attached proposal.
The negotiations – like our operations and the operations of so many – were stalled by the pandemic, but we returned to the bargaining table last year, as we were recommencing operations and met with Local 802 regularly thereafter. While operations have resumed, as many of you witnessed when performing with us recently, they have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. This return is a long and unpredictable process as singers, families, community, church ensembles and schools slowly overcome their fears of returning to the stage and travelling to New York City, which has resulted in fewer and smaller concerts than those which occurred prior to the pandemic, so we haven’t had the privilege of working with as many of you as we might like since reopening. We hope to see increased concert activity in the years to come, but in the meantime, we’d like to have agreed upon terms and conditions of employment applicable to the work available.
Throughout the negotiations process these past 3+ years, we have refrained from sharing any details of the negotiations to date, preferring to discuss those details in the bi-weekly meetings taking place with Local 802. Unfortunately, after exhausting discussions on all proposals, we have not reached agreement on several key items, even after the intervention of a Federal Mediator. The Union has threatened that it will put its PR machine and all resources at its disposal into action to pressure DCINY in to giving Local 802 what they demand. Earlier in the negotiations clients, choirs, singers, industry partners, and others received unsolicited communications reportedly from Local 802 which contained inaccurate statements, and which put our work with singers and musicians at great risk, so we know their threat is not a hollow one.
We wanted to clarify about the situation before you hear from Local 802 or from their PR machine and share with you a few key facts surrounding the negotiations so that you have some insight into the process that has led to this point:
- The Union has insisted that DCINY agree to offer all work to certain select musicians, as chosen by Local 802, rather than to the entire community of musicians who have played with DCINY in the recent past. DCINY has objected and sought a more fair and equitable distribution of work via a rotation system for all musicians who have been offered work by DCINY.
- DCINY has offered the Union an agreement which includes financial improvements to musicians totaling more than 13% immediately once an agreement is ratified. That 13% includes a wage increase to $500 as well as a $10.00 contribution toward the Local 802 Health Benefit Fund per engagement. The Union’s economic demands exceed a whopping 46%!
- The Union has unnecessarily complicated the negotiations by raising various subjects throughout the negotiations which are not part of musicians’ employment or covered by the certification of the union as bargaining representative, and to this day Local 802 continues to insist that DCINY waste time and resources negotiating over and reaching agreement concerning various subjects which are not now nor have ever been part of DCINY concerts such as run-out engagements, tours, and certain recording related obligations.
A copy of DCINY’s offer, which was shared with Local 802 yesterday, aligns with the current climate and with the desire to bring you ALL back to the stage, is attached. We hope that you will recognize it as a fair and equitable first contract which provides for significant increases in compensation and an equitable distribution of work inclusive of ALL DCINY musicians. Please encourage Local 802 and your union committee members to accept DCINY’s offer so that we can achieve a union contract and provide to you the increased compensation we have offered to Local 802. We look forward to having you play with us in the near future.
Iris and Jonathan