Local Settles Unfair Labor Practice Charge

Local 655 has settled an Unfair Labor Practice it filed against Florida Grand Opera (FGO), Palm Beach Symphony (PBS), and Miami Symphonic Entertainment (MSE).

This past February, Local 655 President Jay Bertolet and Vice President Dan Satterwhite were fired by FGO, PBS, and MSE, apparently for "union activity" and because of their positions as officers of Local 655. Shortly thereafter, Local 655 filed unfair labor practice charges against the three organizations with the National Labor Relations Board. We are happy to report that we have settled the charges, and both employees are being reinstated to their former positions. You may recall that IATSE stagehands at the Kravis Center were reinstated and received $2 million in back pay after a twelve year struggle to resolve their unfair labor practice charges. We are happy that our charges were resolved in a much shorter time period.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, is is illegal for an employer to:

Question you about your union support or activities in a manner that discourages you from engaging in that activity. Fire, demote, or transfer you, or reduce your hours or change your shift, or otherwise take adverse action against you, or threaten to take any of these actions, because you join or support a union, or because you engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection, or because you choose not to engage in any such activity. Threaten to close your workplace if workers choose a union to represent them. Promise or grant promotions, pay raises, or other benefits to discourage or encourage union support. Prohibit you from wearing union hats, buttons, t-shirts, and pins in the workplace except under special circumstances. Spy on or videotape peaceful union activities and gatherings or pretend to do so. If you believe your rights have been violated, please contact us. We are stronger together, and together we can prevent employers from taking advantage of musicians.



It's encouraging that the Local was effective in protecting the rights of these two individuals. What's ironic in this case, is that the two members concerned were somewhat vocal a decade ago in undermining the rights of an entire orchestra similarly employed by FGO as they sought bargaining rights with FGO, VP (then Pres) even soliciting non-support of that orchestra in an address to the membership. It may be tempting for those of us adversely affected 10 years ago to view the recent success of the Local as unjust, given the historical perspective and the individuals concerned, but the truth is that the rights protected are every musician's rights - just as it would have been if the Local had been united and succesful a decade ago. Well done, even if a little late in coming.

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