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Labor Charges Filed Against Little Airplane Productions

On June 30, 2008, Local 802 AFM filed unfair labor charges under the National Labor Relations Act against Little Airplane Productions, Inc., alleging coercion and negotiating in bad faith.

While engaged in contract negotiations with the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM, Little Airplane Productions, Inc. illegally and unilaterally replaced, without notice, its musicians for its children's program THE WONDER PETS!

Last summer, the musicians employed by Little Airplane Productions, requested in writing that their employer negotiate a union contract with Local 802 AFM.

After months of phone and email communication, face to face negotiations began in earnest. At Little Airplane's request, a negotiation session was held on May 14 at Local 802 headquarters on West 48th Street to clarify a number of economic proposals currently on the table. An attorney for Little Airplane indicated that the company wanted to keep the whole team in place and engage its musicians under a collective bargaining agreement with Local 802. Then without notice or discussion the company replaced all members of the American Federation of Musicians working on the show.

Faced with potential public protest, the employer promised to stop recording in order to return to the bargaining table and met with the union on July 10, 2008 at Local 802 headquarters to exchange economic proposals. The employer indicated that the parties' respective positions appeared to be apart by less than 1 percent of payroll for the season. According to Little Airplane, it is now a $10 million a year company.

As of July 23, Little Airplane says that it will employ the New York musicians only if there is no union agreement. Furthermore, the company claims that if the musicians and their union persist in seeking a union contract, one that both sides had been negotiating for a year, it will record the music in the Czech Republic, without the New York musicians, eliminating its "union problems."

Housed in a government-subsidized building, Little Airplane Productions is paying musicians as independent contractors. Paying musicians as independent contractors instead of employees is a violation of state employment law.

The tactics employed by Little Airplane represent the lowest level of bad faith negotiating, worker intimidation and sharp business practices, damaging its integrity and that of the corporations that broadcast their programs, the union argues.

Further charges will be filed with the National Labor Relations Board.

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