Local 802 is initiating a grievance process against “Be More Chill,” after it says the show violated the union contract by reversing its decision about orchestrator Charlie Rosen.
In a public letter, the musicians’ union wrote that the “Be More Chill” producers had reinstated Rosen as second guitarist Wednesday night, after initially removing him from the position on Feb. 12. Per the rules of the collective bargaining agreement between the Broadway League and Local 802, a show’s orchestrator cannot also play in the pit of the show.
As part of the grievance procedure, an arbitrator will determine whether the “Be More Chill” producers, which includes lead producer Gerald Goehring, have acted in violation of the collective bargaining agreement.
Asked for comment, the “Be More Chill” producers said they would be continuing discussions with the musicians’ union.
“On behalf of Be More Chill, we verify that we have reinstated Charlie Rosen as the second guitarist in the band. We look forward to a bipartisan process moving forward in the continued respectful discussion between 802 and our show,” the producers said in a statement.
This comes after the producers of “Be More Chill” and the musicians’ union had said Wednesday that they were working through the issue. Local 802 said it had received emails and calls about the situation from members of the Broadway community and that it shared the “frustration” voiced by members about the fact that Rosen’s removal occurred just before the show’s preview period.
However, the union laid the blame on production team of “Be More Chill,” saying that Local 802 was not informed about the violation of the agreement until Feb. 6, when the hiring forms were submitted. The union clarified that it does not have the power to fire people and that only the producers can make hiring and firing decisions.
In the letter, the union said the clause is meant to guarantee the hiring of more musicians. An exception to the rule exists for conductors who also orchestrated the show off-Broadway. Those conductors can transfer with the Broadway show as a conductor, provided they do not work on additional orchestrations for that presentation.
“This aspect of the contract has been an important piece in ensuring jobs for hundreds of orchestrators on Broadway over the past six decades,” the letter reads.
The collective bargaining agreement itself is set to be renegotiated with the League beginning next week, which leaves open the possibility that the clause could be changed.
“As a union, big changes in our contract can only be driven by the membership, not be left to one person deciding unilaterally what is right or wrong,” the letter reads. “We are about to enter contract negotiations on February 27th, and this is the perfect time to get involved in making the contract what we want it to be.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated exact nature of the grievance process.