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Ballet West free of union charges

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Ballet West dancers in "Ghost Dances." Charges of unfair labor practices against the company have been withdrawn.

Ballet West dancers in “Ghost Dances.” Charges of unfair labor practices against the company have been withdrawn.

Erik Ostling

Charges of unfair labor practices filed by the American Guild of Musical Artists against Ballet West have been withdrawn.

The charges were filed in May on behalf of the Ballet West dancers union.

On Wednesday, Ballet West was informed by the National Labor Relations Board that AGMA dropped the charges regarding contract negotiations when it was notified that the NLRB did not find in its favor.

Ballet West executive director Johann Jacobs said he welcomed the news. "We believe we have always operated in good faith and welcome the withdrawal of the charge. We look forward to reaching a fair and mutually beneficial agreement with our dancers."

In May, the dancers asked AGMA to file unfair labor-practice charges with the NLRB alleging management refused to bargain in good faith. The complaint was filed with the board's Denver regional office.

The initial file charged that after approximately 29 hours of productive negotiations between the dancers and Ballet West administration, management took a monthlong hiatus after a member of the negotiating party became ill, and "basically ceased to negotiate" with the dancers, whose contracts expired in June, according to AGMA's national dance executive Norah Heiber.

On Wednesday, Heiber said the charges were dropped in good faith because Ballet West "unleashed" its lawyer from the negotiations. Discussions will resume on Monday, Aug. 15.

"We are going to sit back at the table with a new and refreshed desire to sit and work together," said Heiber. "We hope to come to a mutually beneficial agreement."

Ballet West dancers are not allowed to comment, pending the negotiations.

E-mail: scott@desnews.com