The dancers of the American Ballet Theatre, who have been locked out by the ballet company for the past eight weeks, today offered to return to work for the remainder of this season under most of the terms of their most recent, now-expired contract, according to dancers' spokesman Frank Smith.
Smith said, however, the dancers asked that their wages be increased by the amount ABT has already offered at the bargaining table -- a minimum raise of 20 percent -- in the so far unsuccessful labor negotiations being conducted to replace the contract that expired Aug. 31.
Smith said ABT management has "rejected our offer." Senior ABT officials, who asked not to be named, acknowledged that the dancers had made the "one-year peace offer" but denied ABT has turned the proposal down.
Negotiations recessed tonight for one week, with the next session scheduled for Nov. 2.
ABT officials said the dancers' proposal was under active consideration.
The officials acknowledged, however, that the ballet company "didn't give the dancers any encouragement" regarding the newest proposal.
ABT general manager Charles Dillingham said the lengthy recess was fault of the dancers: "We strongly requested a meeting for tomorrow but they said the earliest . . was Nov. 2."
Smith said that in light of ABT's alleged rejection of the "peace plan," "we told them we are not willing to meet unless it's meaningful."
Meanwhile, ABT today delivered a check for past-due health insurance premiums to the dancers. Earlier this month, ABT had announced it would discontinue paying the premiums for the duration of the labor dispute, but the company has since changed its mind.