Honeywell workers represented by the United Auto Workers Local 9 have voted not to accept the company’s latest contract proposal. A lockout began in May after the union rejected the original contract. The new proposal contained some health care changes: guaranteed weekly premiums for health and dental insurance would not go up more than 15% per year and Honeywell would contribute more to employee health care savings accounts to offset increased costs. The UAW member continue to be concerned about other parts of the proposal: changes in overtime eligibility, removal of paid absence allowance days, and freezing of contributions to long-standing “legacy” pension plans.
Details of the contract agreement that ended the November SEPTA Transport Workers strike in Philadelphia have been revealed. The workers, members of Transport Workers Union Local 234, will receive 10.5% pay raises over the next five years, health insurance payments will increase from 1% to 2.5% of pay, and pension payments will increase 12.8% to 15.2%, depending on the years an employee has worked for SEPTA. Absent from the agreement were changes in break-time increments or downtime between shifts for “fatigued” workers which had been a talking point. The increased cost of $146 million over five years will be absorbed entirely within SEPTA’s existing 10-year budget with no additional public funding or fare increases required.
Under that agreement, musicians received small raises of 2% to 3% in each of the past three seasons. Those were small steps to work toward rebuilding wages that were cut drastically in 2009. Negotiations have not just focused on salaries and work rules, but also strategies to grow the orchestra.
The first official concert of the 2015-2016 season took place in mid-September, but the musicians organized and presented a free concert at Grand Rapids Public Museum just after Labor Day to raise public awareness. A standing-room-only audience of approximately 255 filled the museum.
If you are in the Hartford, Connecticut, area and free on Wednesday, September 9, come out and show your support for the musicians of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra who are fighting for a fair contract. A rally is planned for noon on the north steps of the state capitol building. Speakers at the rally will include AFM International President Ray Hair and Connecticut AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Treasurer Lori Pelletier. Following the rally, musicians will march to Bushnell theater to engage in informational picketing.
Hartford Symphony musicians, members of Local 400 (Hartford, CT), have been fighting for a fair contract since June 2014. Their last contract expired in 2013, and as negotiations began, musicians agreed to a one-year extension. The symphony has proposed nearly 40% wage cuts for core musicians and more restrictive scheduling. These changes would adversely affect the ability of the part-time musicians to earn a living through other part-time jobs.
Additionally, the current proposal does not include any in-school educational performances. In past years, the musicians have done more than 200 interactive educational performances of small ensembles for students.
In the modern day many people will more readily send an email than physically call a person. Emails, social media, and other communication is great way to get in touch with people, but sometimes the most successful way is a good old-fashion phone call. A well-developed telephone technique is crucial to the success of the client contact process. Potential clients can sense when you don’t feel confident, even when that conversation is over the phone.
If you lack confidence or if you are shy, you should consider getting advice on how to put forward a strong verbal presentation over the telephone. Many books have been written on the subject, and they are not just for telephone salespeople. Anyone who uses the telephone to drum up business must work on their technique.
Speaking slowly and clearly and learning a “script,” especially when you are cold-calling clients, are some of the techniques worth knowing. Another is how to follow up on cold calls. Yet another is how to leave a message on voice mail that will be memorable, which is a technique a little like a 30-second elevator pitch without the business card.
Some musicians don’t think it’s respectable to call a client themselves. They believe that clients have less respect for musicians who represent themselves than for musicians who are represented by an agent. Therefore, some musicians prefer to have an agent who will call clients on their behalf.
However, you should consider that TV commercials where the owner of the car dealership or mattress emporium represents him or herself are rated higher and more effective than commercials that don’t have an owner present. This was part of the secret behind the rise of the Wendy’s restaurant chain, under the charismatic leadership of Dave Thomas, who often appeared in national TV ads.
Following this logic, clients may well be more convinced of your skills as a musician and bandleader if they talk to you in person, rather than through an agent. Plus, one of the benefits of representing yourself is that you at least know how you are being presented.
Telephone calls are still one of the least expensive and most effective ways of self-promotion. If your phone technique is good, and you present yourself and your band in a memorable way, clients will recall you when you phone again.
For example, Hal Galper of Local 802 (New York City) remembers the time he sat on a panel at the International Association of Jazz Educators’ convention in Atlanta, Georgia. His name was mentioned often on the panel, and many of his clients were present. At one point the moderator asked, “Is there anyone here who has not received a phone call from Hal Galper?” Everyone laughed, and amazingly only one person said, “I haven’t.” Galper arranged to chat with this person after the panel was over. “It pays to have a good phone rap,” he reminds other working musicians.
The AFM has filed a lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment, Inc. for collective bargaining agreement violations regarding the Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA). The SRLA covers wages, benefits, and other conditions of employment for professional musicians in the creation of sound recordings. Among multiple violations named in the suit was recording work on the 2009 docomentary Michael Jackson’s This Is It, made just before Jackson’s death. Sony called the musicians for a recording session, which it claimed was for a “record” (defined as CDs, records, tapes, music videos, or concert DVDs), when the actual purpose was the recording of a film score. The SRLA Sony signed only covered recording for records, and prohibited recording for film scores. While Sony could have signed a letter that would allow them to use the AFM Motion Picture Agreement for this recording session, the company refused. As a result musicians are unable to collect residuals on the film.
This discrepancy may seem small to the public, but it makes a huge difference in terms of fair compensation to musicians trying to earn a living, explains AFM President Ray Hair. “Musicians have joined together to create industry standards and it is simply unacceptable for greedy corporations to knowingly violate those standards and deny residuals,” he says.
The suit also charges Sony with failure to make “new use” payments to musicians as required under the SRLA for the incorporation of covered sound recordings into new sound recordings and electronic media. Among other projects named in the lawsuit were: Pitbull’s 2012 version of Michael Jackson’s “Bad”; use of the Earth, Wind & Fire song “Boogie Woogie Wonderland” in the 2012 movie The Untouchables; use of the 17 songs from Tony Bennett: Duets II in a 2012 program broadcast on National Public Television; and use of recorded live televised performances of Whitney Houston accompanied by instrumental musicians (covered by the AFM Television Videotape Agreement) to produce a CD and CD/DVD set called Whitney Houston Live: Her Greatest Performances.
“We did not want to go to court,” says Hair, “but Sony repeatedly refused to do the right thing and pay the musicians fairly.
The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and USPS failed to reach an agreement before the expiration of the current contract in May. According to an APWU news bulletin the USPS is insisting on severe cuts in pay and benefits, though progress has been made on many non-economic issues. “Management’s economic demands and proposed changes to the workforce structure were completely unacceptable,” says APWU President Mark Dimondstein.
Among the Postal Service proposals are:
- eliminate of current cost-of-living adjustments.
- Increased employee contribution to healthcare.
- Permanent lower payscale for future career employees with reduced benefits.
- Increased percentage of noncareer employees.
- Weakened layoff protection.
APWU proposals include fair and reasonable wage increases, limits on subcontracting, more career jobs, improvements for Postal Support Employees, limits on excessing, and better service for our customers, explains Dimondstein. The talks will now go to mediation.
On May 6, the musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra ratified a new five-year agreement during an endowment drive that has achieved a $26 million increase in the past year. The contract provides 1.5% salary gains in each season, in addition to the restoration of 14 of 23 permanent musician vacancies. A one-time income supplement of 12% to all current tenure track musicians creates a compensation package of 3% over the life of the deal.
This is a major step forward for an orchestra that saw a drop in endowment value from $92.7 million during 2000 to $56 million during the financial upheaval of 2008. Musician concessions in 2009 and a contract extension in 2011, along with new and prudent board financial practices, provided a path to this agreement. The original goal of $20 million for the endowment was exceeded by $6 million, establishing full funding of the salary increases and restored vacancies, plus a future reduction in annual endowment draw from 5% to 4.5%.
As the institution faces the challenges of a $125 million renovation of Music Hall during 2016-17, the new labor agreement provides financial stability and eliminates the last of a structural deficit by the 125th anniversary season of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 2020.
In a secret ballot, members of the Reno Philharmonic, represented by Local 368 (Reno, NV), ratified a new four-year agreement in September 2014. The previous four-year contract expired June 30. The new deal is retroactive to July 1 and includes improvements to employee wages and a guaranteed number of performances during the concert season. The contract covers the orchestra’s more than 60 musicians. Reno Philharmonic is northern Nevada’s largest performing arts organization.