Costume shop workers at the Los Angeles Opera, who are represented by IATSE Local 768, have voted unanimously to ratify a new three-year contract – their first with the Opera. Last September, they leafleted the Opera’s opening night gala in an effort to bring public awareness to their demands for a fair contract.
Most of their co-workers – the Opera’s stagehands, dressers, treasurers and ticket sellers, musicians, performers, stage managers, and hair and make-up artists – have long worked under union contracts. It wasn’t until now, however, that union protections have been won by the costume shop workers, who are largely women, people of color or LGBTQ.
“Prior to forming their union, a large majority of workers were unable to save money for emergencies or plan for the future,” said IATSE Representative Allison Smartt. “The contract’s increased wages, benefits, and job security will mean these amazing craftspeople can have family sustaining careers; and with their union, can have more agency in their work lives.”
According to the union, the new contract provides pay increases ranging between 30%-52% depending on their job classification; retroactive pay hikes dating back to last July 1; a 3% increase in retirement contributions; a 40-hour weekly guarantee for all full-time employees; a 10-hour rest period, and for the first time, health care contributions, vacation pay, and retirement contributions for over-hire workers.