Local 802 headquarters on West 48th Street
Local 802 headquarters on West 48th Street
The Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG) issued a statement today in support of the American Federation of Musicians Local 802, which is currently in contract negotiations with the League of American Theatres and Producers.

Co-chaired by Actors' Equity Association executive director Alan Eisenberg and Local 1 Business Manager Anthony DePaulo, COBUG represents unions that cover every aspect of the theater, from actors, writers, and directors to hairstylists, ticket-takers, and press agents. Today's statement, which was released after COBUG heard presentations from both the League and Local 802, reads as follows:

"The Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds is very concerned about the lack of agreement in the Musicians' negotiations with the League.
*We support the preservation of live music on Broadway.
*Our memberships have expressed strong support for the musicians.
*The Coalition requests that both sides continue negotiations.
*We also request that the League not rehearse with virtual orchestras or pre-recorded music while negotiations continue."

Meanwhile, the League has been making its position known through full-page ads in Broadway Playbills and, additionally, by stuffing those Playbills with flyers titled "Broadway Producers Are Committed To Live Music Forever. The flyers read as follows:

"We're the League of American Theatres and Producers, the people who bring you Broadway, and we're committed to live music, now and forever!

"We provide jobs for 6,000 people on Broadway and hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers whose jobs depend on the $4.4 billion in annual economic activity Broadway brings to this city. And we want musicians in the pit, playing live music.

"We are currently negotiating a new labor contract with the musicians' union. Naturally, as in any negotiation, there are some things we don't agree upon. One thing we do agree on, however, is that live music belongs on Broadway. That is fundamental, and it isn't going to change.

"What does have to change is the union's ability to force the creative team to hire more musicians than it needs. The number of musicians in a Broadway musical should be an artistic decision made by the people who create and produce the show, shouldn't it? Of course. That's how theatre is created in London and in most other cities in the world.

"The League and its members are completely dedicated to reaching a fair settlement in these negotiations. Artistic freedom must be protected. The health of Broadway, which is vital to the City of New York and its economy, is at stake.

"It's time for the union and its musicians to give Broadway's creative teams the freedom they need to continue to bring the people of New York City the best live musicals in the world. Thank you, and enjoy the show!"

The contract between Local 802 and the League officially expired on March 2 but was extended until 12:01am this Friday, March 7. A musicians' strike could conceivably be called anytime thereafter. Actors' Equity has scheduled an emergency council meeting for Friday, and the results of that meeting will be announced at a press conference at 4:15 PM at AEA headquarters (165 West 46th Street, 14th floor). According to Alan Eisenberg, in the event of a strike, the council will hear separate presentations by the musicians and the producers before taking any action.