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News: Dance
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Dancers' Union Files NLRB Complaint Against Ballet West

By Ben Mattison
18 May 2005

The dancers of Salt Lake City's Ballet West have accused the company of unfair labor practices, the American Guild of Musical Artists announced yesterday.

AGMA, which has represented the company since January, has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board claiming that the company's management has refused to bargain with the union in good faith.

According to AGMA, representatives of management and the union began contract negotiations earlier this year, making progress toward an agreement in 29 hours of talks. After a month-long break in talks, however, management withdrew its previous agreement to various contract provisions and refused to negotiate further.

“The dancers sought to affiliate with AGMA, as many professional dancers do,because they felt that they needed help getting the Ballet West management to deal with them fairly,” said Nora Heiber, AGMA's national dance executive. "From the very beginning of this process, [Ballet West executive director Johann] Jacobs stated that it has always been their intention at Ballet West to maintain the national standards established by AGMA. Unfortunately, Ballet West has not only drastically altered their point of view on this, but apparently has decided to deal with its dancers in bad faith and to violate its obligations under the law.”

AGMA also said it would ask the attorney general of Utah and the Internal Revenue Service to examine the company's operations. According to the union, the company has reduced its season, effectively cutting dancers' pay, while increasing the salaries of its artistic director, executive director, and chief financial officer.

Ballet West did not immediately return calls seeking comment.




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