The Joffrey Ballet in ‘Glass Pieces’ by Jerome Robbins. Photo: Cheryl Mann.

The new agreement begins July 1, 2022 and runs through June 30, 2027

April 21, 2022 (Chicago) – The Joffrey Ballet and the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), the union that represents the Joffrey’s 46 Company Artists and Joffrey stage management, have reached a new five-year collective bargaining agreement, beginning July 1, 2022, and running through June 30, 2027. This agreement is currently tentative, pending ratification by the AGMA Board of Governors.

After only one week of negotiations and open dialogue, Joffrey leadership and representatives for AGMA came to a mutually beneficial contract that resulted in the Joffrey’s second consecutive five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) — the first of which came in 2016 and was extended one year due to the pandemic. Both parties agreed to pursue an interest-based model of cooperation, one 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. For context, dance company contracts are typically renegotiated every 1–3 years.

“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.”

At the start of the pandemic, the Joffrey established the Care & Feeding Committee, a leadership group dedicated to preserving the wellbeing of the Joffrey artists and staff. As a result, the Joffrey guaranteed the contracts of all Company Artists for the remainder of the 2019–2020 season, reinforcing trust, respect, and transparency in the process.  

“Ashley (Wheater MBE, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director) and Greg have always put the company first,” said Joffrey Company Artist and AGMA representative April Daly. “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. 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.”

Highlights of the agreement include:

  • An increase in the base salary that will make the Joffrey competitive with other premier ballet companies.
  • Increases to Company Artists 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.

“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. ”

“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.”

About The Joffrey Ballet­­

The Joffrey Ballet is one of the premier dance companies in the world today, with a reputation for boundary-breaking performances for more than 60 years. The Joffrey repertoire is an extensive collection of all-time classics, modern masterpieces, and original works.

Founded in 1956 by pioneers Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, the Joffrey remains dedicated to artistic expression, innovation, and first-rate education and engagement programming. The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director Ashley Wheater MBE and President and CEO Greg Cameron.

About AGMA

American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) is the labor union of singers, dancers, and staging staff in opera, ballet and concert dance, and concert choral performance in the United States. A national union with a membership of over 6,000 artists, AGMA provides forceful advocacy and defense of its members’ employment and artistic rights. AGMA negotiates and enforces over 65 collective bargaining agreements throughout the country, ensuring fair and safe working conditions and enhancing the quality of life of its members. AGMA has a direct charter from the AFL-CIO and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO Branch of Associated Actors and Artists of America and the Department for Professional Employees (DPE). AGMA is also a part of the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG).

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