Contract Extension Agreement Reached for Dallas Opera
After nearly eight months of negotiation, the musicians of the Dallas Opera Orchestra reached agreement with The Dallas Opera for a one-year extension to the Master Agreement which expired June 30, 2020. Due of the COVID-19 Pandemic, The Dallas Opera was forced to cancel all spring performances from the 2019-20 season, coming to an agreement to pay musicians 50% of compensation under the Master Agreement then in effect. In June, the company announced that it would be postponing its 2020-21 season to the months of spring 2021. In the context of mass shutdowns across the music industry (which are especially severe for opera and musical theater), an agreement was reached which maintained wages and benefits for the 2020-21 season, reducing the yearly number of guaranteed weeks of salary from 18 to 12 weeks. Virtually all modifications of the orchestra’s Master Agreement relate to the special circumstances of operation during the Pandemic, and are in effect specifically during the period of the Pandemic.
At present, preparations for a modified Dallas Opera season during the Pandemic (including live opera performances) are under way. Musicians representatives are in discussions with Management to work out a COVID-19 safety plan for all company employees. Discussions include the special considerations and logistics of live musical theater, orchestra performing conditions and COVID-19 testing.
Along with this extension, the musicians ratified the AFM’s Covid-19 Side Letter to the Integrated Media Agreement in late November, which governs special streaming rights afforded to employers who guarantee employment to their musicians during the Pandemic. Both agreements make possible the streaming of performances for audiences not able to attend live performances. It is understood that a digital series will accompany the live performance series. Currently, an archival performance of The Magic Flute is available to stream during the holiday season.
“Very few live performances of any opera company in the USA are taking place,” said Local 72-147 President Stewart Williams. “As our symphonies here in DFW are on the forefront of maintaining performances during the Pandemic, The Dallas Opera will also be leading the way. It will continue to be a challenge and an adventure to work to safely make this a reality,” he said.
Special thanks go to the Negotiation Committee for the Dallas Opera Musicians, consisting of Jeff Baker, Rick Bogard, Eric Forman, Donna Hall and Katie Wolber.