I wrote an 11 page paper about the problems with unions, Part 4: Boom, baby

The immediate outcome of this trial was that the Opera would be required to include the auxiliary choristers in collective bargaining. The Opera renegotiated their contract with AGMA in 2012. While no one was obligated to report on the proceedings – and, as such, there is no official report— the finalized agreement is available to any member of AGMA. As of 2012, and through the 2015 season, the Opera no longer has auxiliary choristers. Instead the structure of the Choristers, Dance Captain and Corps Dancers lays out the following: Regular Choristers, Probationary Regular Choristers, Temporary Regular Choristers, Associate Choristers, and Supplementary Choristers. It also adds the position of Chorus Personnel Coordinator (American 37-38).

The Regular and Temporary Regular Choristers remain as previously described. Probationary Regular Choristers are, as one might assume, Regular Choristers that are on probation – be it because they’re within their first year of employment or because they have been put on disciplinary probation (37).

In place of the auxiliary choristers, the categories of Associate Choristers and Supplementary Choristers were created. Associates have priority of employment after the pool of regular choristers has been exhausted and are subject to collective bargaining. The category of Supplementary Choristers is a catchall for those choristers that do not fit into any of the other defined categories (38). Interestingly, in defining rates of pay for these categories, Regular Choristers are indeed compensated at a higher rate than any of the other categories, but, as of 2012, the Associate and Supplementary categories are compensated at the same rate as one another (43).

This cannot be confirmed, but it is likely that the Chorus Personnel Coordinator was added in response to some question about the tax status of the auxiliary choristers. The court cites in its footnotes a conversation in which Opera personnel could not confirm what documentation the auxiliary choristers had completed for tax purposes, possibly because of a miscommunication regarding whether this was a stipend, an honorarium, or transportation reimbursement (Seattle). The addition of union personnel likely reduces the Opera’s liability in case of a similar error in the future.

Finally, it is of note that the judge did not order remuneration for back pay or injunctive relief for the current season of auxiliary contracts. They were simply afforded a seat at the table in the future.

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