HBO And American Federation Of Musicians Settle Dispute Over ‘The Gilded Age’

HBO and the American Federation of Musicians have reached a settlement of their dispute over the employment of musicians on miniseries The Gilded Age. The union filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the premium cabler on Friday, claiming that 23 musicians on the 10-part series were fired after they asked to be represented by the union.

“We have a tentative agreement,” said AFM president Ray Hair.

HBO said that “after careful consideration of our valued relationships with our union partners and the community of musicians and performers, we have reached an agreement with the American Federation of Musicians on The Gilded Age production to cover their members on an AFM basis.” Previously, HBO had noted that the series “is a multi-union production” and that for scenes filming in Troy, NY, “local background actors were cast to mimic a musical performance. The actors were offered pay over union scale. No one has been fired. We will continue to engage with all parties involved to work towards a resolution.”

The union said that 23 musicians had been hired to “sideline” on the period drama, meaning that they would be miming the playing of their instruments on camera, not actually playing them. The union’s contract provides that when two or more musicians are hired to “sideline,” they’ll each be paid a minimum of $242 a day, plus pension and health contributions.

In a complaint filed on Friday with the National Labor Relation’s board – which will be withdrawn once the agreement is finalized – the union claimed that HBO had “coerced and interfered with musicians’ protected right to request that their employers recognize the AFM as their sole and exclusive bargaining representative by promising a grant of benefits to the musicians in exchange for their agreeing not to request union representation by discharging the musicians” for requesting AFM representation, “and by conditioning the musicians’ re-employment on their agreement to work under a separate union’s jurisdiction.” The AFM also claimed that this constituted “discrimination and retaliation against musicians to discourage AFM membership and support.”

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