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Musicians From Distinguished Concerts International New York to Rally for Fair Contract

Musicians are asking the public to attend the rally and sign their letter of support.

Musicians From Distinguished Concerts International New York to Rally for Fair Contract

The orchestra of Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) is staging a public rally with live music at Dante Park, across from Lincoln Center, on Sunday, November 20 at 1pm.

They'll be joined by musicians from the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and New York City Ballet, along with elected officials and other union supporters.

The orchestra of Distinguished Concerts International New York, many of whom are members of the NYC musicians' union (AFM Local 802), is demanding a fair contract from DCINY, a for-profit company that produces concerts at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

The orchestra successfully formed a union with AFM Local 802 three years ago. But their employer still refuses to sign a first contract that offers meaningful job security and hiring provisions, union wages in line with area standards, pension and health contributions, recording payments, and more.

For more than a decade, DCINY has operated as a producer and presenter of music at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. For many of its choral concerts, DCINY assembles choirs of amateur singers from around the world who pay a fee to perform in New York's most prominent venues. DCINY then hires a professional orchestra, soloists, and conductors.

The company resumed live performances in 2022 and immediately replaced the full professional orchestra with just a handful of musicians. The company also replaced professional musicians with an amateur high school ensemble. Musicians fought back with a high-profile musical protest at Carnegie Hall in June that brought massive visibility to their campaign.

Percussionist Andy Blanco, who performs in the orchestra and serves on the musicians' negotiating committee said, "While we enjoy the work of playing in this orchestra, it often involves unreasonably long rehearsals with inadequate breaks; intense, physically demanding performance days; and an atmosphere of fear due to frequent retaliation for voicing concerns to management. We do not have a contract, do not receive benefits of any kind, and have no guarantee that we will be hired for future engagements. To address these issues, we came together with the support of Local 802 to negotiate a fair collective bargaining agreement that allows musicians to express our concerns without fear of retribution."

Management refused to schedule negotiations with the union for many months. This stalemate was finally broken after Local 802 filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the company that was settled when DCINY agreed to negotiate regularly. The company has also been charged with additional Unfair Labor Practices, which are currently in progress.

Violinist Tallie Brunfelt, a member of both the orchestra and the negotiating committee, said, "This struggle isn't just about our orchestra. This is about maintaining professional standards for musicians everywhere, but especially at prominent venues that our company uses as home bases for its concerts."

"An injury to one is an injury to all," said Local 802 President Tino Gagliardi. "We must stand up for professional standards, especially when an employer hires musicians to perform at iconic major venues like Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center. We demand a fair contract for the musicians of DCINY."

"Musicians are raising their voice for fair treatment and professional standards," said Local 802 Recording Vice President Harvey Mars, who is leading the negotiations on behalf of musicians and the union. "The full DCINY orchestra has demonstrated its willingness to perform, despite DCINY's refusal to hire a full orchestra or offer meaningful job security and hiring standards, pension and health contributions, protection against unauthorized recording, and other professional standards. Musicians deserve a fair contract now!"

Musicians are asking the public to attend the rally and sign their letter of support.



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