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December 1, 2022IM -
Beginning in 2018, Fiddler on the Roof performed in Yiddish was selling out shows. The off-Broadway production, which was about to go on tour in 2020 when the pandemic hit, was revived this fall at New World Stages.
The production had a union contract covering the actors and other production workers, but the producers refused to sign a union contract covering musicians. The Local 802 (New York City) musicians had been in contract negotiations since September and made it clear that they intended to fight for a fair contract, or walk.
There was a great synergy between the targeted efforts of the Yiddish Fiddler on the Roof orchestra members and the Local 802 representatives. “We met as a group with Local 802 representatives to make sure that all involved were being kept apprised of the most recent developments,” says percussionist Peter Saleh, a member of Local 802. “We sought out the musicians who had been offered the nonunion replacement positions and gave them the fuller context of what the producers were trying to do. In a display of solidarity, those musicians then withdrew themselves from consideration.”
On November 1, Local 802 representatives sent out an official Do Not Work order. The producers immediately returned to negotiations and a contract was signed within 24 hours.
“It truly felt like a proper organizing effort with many people contributing their skills and knowledge to the benefit of all, and with Local 802 representatives giving us the confidence and resources to persevere and follow through,” adds Saleh.
The musicians are now covered under Local 802’s Commercial Off Broadway Area Standards. This agreement ensures all musicians working in commercial venues across New York receive the same wages, protections, and benefits. The union agreement also provides premium pay for musicians who double or serve in the role of a bandleader.
“We commend the musicians who bravely took a stand against the unfair contract and turned down the work,” says Local 802 President Tino Gagliardi. “We saw an outpouring of support on social media and elsewhere after we sent out our original announcement. This victory shows the power of solidarity.”