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DANCE NEWS: American Guild of Musical Artists Celebrates Landmark Tentative Agreement with the Joffrey Ballet

DANCE NEWS: American Guild of Musical Artists Celebrates Landmark Tentative Agreement with the Joffrey Ballet

Published on April 21, 2022
The Joffrey Ballet in "Glass Pieces"; photo by Cheryl Mann

The American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and the Joffrey Ballet reached a new five-year collective bargaining agreement, beginning July 1, 2022, and running through June 30, 2027. This is currently a tentative agreement, pending ratification by the AGMA Board of Governors.

The AGMA Joffrey Negotiating Committee, representing their fellow 46 Joffrey dancers and stage managers, and the Joffrey came to a mutually beneficial contract after just one week of negotiations and open dialogue, marking the second consecutive five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between AGMA and the Joffrey.

“This is an extraordinary agreement, and one both parties should celebrate,” said Sam Wheeler, National Executive Director of AGMA. “While still navigating a pandemic, AGMA and the Joffrey worked together to complete an agreement that will ensure that AGMA members who make their livelihood at the Joffrey can thrive and that the Joffrey as an institution can continue to attract and retain the best artists possible.”

The Union and the Company pursued an interest-based bargaining model in which issues and interests (both joint and separate) are identified and discussed at the outset, in contrast to the more traditional bargaining model in which demands are announced from the start. This interest-based model was instrumental in reaching this historic agreement

“There is no Joffrey without our artists,” said Joffrey President and CEO Greg Cameron. “Our goal from the beginning was to support the lifeblood of this great company – the artists, our stage management, and everyone that makes the magic of live performance come together so seamlessly. They inspire us daily and will continue doing so with the benefit of a new contract that spans the next five years. We are grateful to the entire company and its AGMA representation for a productive week of collaboration and partnership.”

Dancer Miu Tanaka; photo © The Joffrey Ballet

Highlights of the tentative agreement include:

  • An increase in the base salary that will make the Joffrey competitive with other top ballet companies. 
  • Substantial increases to dancer and stage manager salaries with additional adjustments based upon years of service. 
  • Additional annual increases for each Artist for the term of the contract .
  • Improvements in tour arrangements, including having a massage therapist available on tour.
  • Establishment of a Media Task Force to discuss and implement a media policy including social media, dancer access to video and photos, rehearsal and performance filming and broadcasting, and promotion. 
  • Improvements to rehearsal and performance processes.
  • A short and long-term disability benefit for dancers and stage managers. 
  • Dancer participation on the Joffrey’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force.

“As an artist, it means everything to have leaders who believe in what you do and only want the best for your future and the future of the company,” said AGMA member and Joffrey artist April Daly. “We are so grateful that our wonderful relationship with the executive leaders of the Joffrey remains at an all-time high. A big thanks also to our union counsel and representative, John Ward, for always championing our AGMA members.”

“This new agreement came together quickly thanks to a great deal of mutual respect, with both sides finding common ground almost immediately,” added AGMA’s Midwest Counsel John Ward. “The Joffrey has built a culture of trust that speaks volumes. We are pleased to have a new contract in place so our union members can focus on their vocation. We thank the Joffrey leadership for its collaborative spirit.”

The Board of Governors will consider the tentative agreement for ratification at the May Board of Governors meeting.

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