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Joffrey Dancers face lock out

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Dancers are to clear out their lockers on Thursday. Oh my! The article makes it sound like things can still be repaired in time, but I feel horrible for the dancers.


The article also states that a sticking point in the negotiations was the Company demand that rehearsals be increased from 5 hours a day to 6. How does that compare with other companies?Joffrey lock out

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Best way to compare is to head to the AGMA website and click through contracts. :thumbsup:

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Were you meaning to add a reply mom57?

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The article really doesn't give that many details. I am in AGMA and in my experience the union works very hard to get fair contracts. In the article someone was quoted as stating that the dancers "would not do something stupid like go out on strike". They lost their bargaining chip right there. Since it sounds like they did not vote to strike and they waited to this point to not have a contract in place, the company has the upper hand. The threat and vote of a strike at the right time (like an opening) usually works to get the administration to give in to concessions. I think it is disgusting that they have decided to cancel those events rather than attempt more negotiations. It is as if they are punishing the dancers by cancelling that part of the season to beat them into submission. After this some of those dancers will probably be too scared but to just vote yes on the current contract on the table, regardless of whether they like it or not.


ETA: I just found another article:




In this one it states that 30 hour rehearsal week (6 hours a day) is the MINIMUM of an AGMA dance company rehearsal week. I don't know how they got away with having only 25 hours of rehearsal up to this point. It must not be mandated that 30 hours is the minimum, just that all other AGMA companies have 30 hours minimum.

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And I know they use every one of those hours too, sometimes calling dancers to a rehearsal after a matinee performance when there's not to be an evening perf. I kind of think 30 hours is the norm.....not including class time, of course.

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Six hours a day of rehearsal was standard when I was performing, way back when. Anything over that we got paid overtime. On performance days we could have no more than 2 hours of rehearsal.

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Back in the seventies, scheduling was my responsibility with Joffrey. The AGMA agreement in place at that time stipulated 6 hours of rehearsal, but after two you had to be given an off hour or earn a premium. The dancers looked on it as a benefit. On a full rehearsal day, you could make all kinds of premium pay.

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luceroblanco - Making "threats" is part of the posturing required in any union negotiations. Just because this is a dance company doesn't mean that we might expect the negotiations to be any different than many out there in the world today. I actually worked for an international labor union so saw first hand what unions will do, and now work for a company that must manage union workers and so I see how they conduct negotiations from "this side". So I've seen both sides of the story. And this is a typical management repsonse. It's certainly reminiscent of the situation with Washington Ballet a few years ago. And if I recall, performances were cancelled then, too. I think I remember it was Nutcracker.


As for six hours of rehearsal, sorry but I don't see what the problem is. Not every dancer rehearses for six hours, do they? The number of hours is directly related to your casting. DS is with a union company, though it is European. They don't get premium pay, overtime, extra days off or anything. The contract stipulates certain hours, which is about six hours a day, though they get a three hour break in the middle of the day. Before premiers or unexpected performances or times when a guest choreographer is setting a piece on the dancers, they can work several hours a day more than that. It's just the way it is. One thing he noted is sometimes these longer rehearsals are part of the contract with the choreographer, who may only be in town for a week or two and really has to maximize that time. He also mentioned that each dancer usually sits out one performance a year, so s/he misses all of those long/longer days, which is a treat.


I remember when he was at a second company here in the states (non-union) his days were often twelve hours long - or more.

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Cheetah, did you read the article? The administration is contesting the 6 hours rehearsal I believe, NOT the dancers. Although I could be wrong--but would make no sense for the dancers to not want it since they would get paid more and also be better prepared for their shows. Also, one of the articles said that Joffrey was losing out on choreographers because they didn't want to work in a such a reduced schedule. (25 hours instead of 30 per week).


As I said above, I am a member of AGMA. We did vote on a strike in my shop (different company) and we got the management to concede on our minimum of demands as a result of it. This was recent--I don't want to divulge where or when since one of the things that the membership agreed on at the time was to NOT divulge information to the press or anyone not involved as that would have hurt our case. The direction we received from union law team was extremely thorough and strategic. A very large consistency of the membership was active and voted. Nothing was lost by the performers--nothing cancelled.


My point is that the strongest bargaining chip that the performers have is the right to strike. No performing arts management wants a strike on their opening night. They lose subscribers and it is really bad for any potential fundraising. This is slightly different from non-performing arts organizations because of the donor factor. The Joffrey management canceled performances at other venues and not at their own venue. So these were "extra" performances that they could afford to cancel without losing much and also blame the dancers for it. It seems from the article that the Joffrey dancers have rejected a strike. I am not privy to the strategy of the Joffrey dancers, but it seems to me that management has the upper hand.

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"The largest point still under negotiation is the move by Joffrey to a 30-hour rehearsal week, which is the minimum level that any other major dance company actually in the world, any AGMA company in America, currently offers," he said, adding that the Joffrey's current 25-hour rehearsal week gets in the way of attracting choreographers and dance professionals.


Actually I read it to mean that the company wants to move to a 30-hour rehearsal week, which is a change from their current 25 hour week. But maybe I'm reading it wrong.


As for going public with their position of not striking, which seems to be what was expressed in the other article, I understand that it is like throwing all of your bargaining chips on the table. But who knows what their strategy really is. It could have been a member who misspoke or it could be a PR attempt to keep the public from openly criticizing the dancers. There are a lot of tactics a union can/will use when devising their strategy. And each strategy is unique to any given situation. So we can only speculate which is always dangerous!!!


DS has several friends at that company so we hope they resolve the situation soon.

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I'm reading it the same way you are, Cheetah. Although neither article is completely clear, I read "the sticking point for the union [is the increase in hours]" as meaning the dancers are objecting, not the administration.

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As for the dancers losing their bargaining chips by announcing they won't strike: I didn't see any indication that the dancer quoted was speaking in any official capacity. I agree that it was a dumb thing to say -- and I say that as someone who has represented our faculty union at negotiations -- but perhaps it was just one individual speaking his own mind, and not voicing a union position.

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I don't understand why the dancers would be holding out for that when all the other union companies have 30 hours. :grinning: We had 6 hours 6 days a week when I was dancing. There was no such thing as two days off, ever!

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Yes, Ms. Leigh, my DS has learned that's true, too! Bit of a surprise for him. Though he has spoken with some AGMA companies that do, in fact, get two days off - the days just may get bumped into the middle of the week depending on performance schedules. That rarely happens for his company, though. And I'm pretty sure he's went a week or two with NO days off. But again, his union is not AGMA.

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