Ever since the POA launched their public relations campaign to promote their side of the contract negotiations I’ve wondered why board chairman, Richard Smoot, took such a hard line position so quickly. Unfortunately, I can only speculate as to why. I’m still waiting to hear back from the POA spokesman, Steve Albertini, with an answer to that question and others; hopefully I’ll hear something soon.
But I feel that chairman Smoot’s hard line stance points toward one strong possibility: the POA actually wants the musicians to go on strike. Consider this:
- The POA has been asking for $1.8 million dollars in concessions in order to qualify for the $50 million grant being offered from the Annenberg Foundation.
- In 1996, the Philadelphia Orchestra musicians went on strike for 64 days, which resulted in saving the POA $2 million in associated labor expenses that year.
In nearly every case involving an orchestra player’s strike, it’s the management that holds the power to offer some sort of egress. But if this contract isn’t settled and the players strike, all management needs to do is wait until the POA saves the needed $1.8 million for this season and then decide to settle.
But who wins in this situation? Do the players win because the POA eventually gives in to most of their demands? Does the POA win because they dilute the effectiveness of a labor strike against the organization and end up saving the $1.8 million dollars they’ve been asking for all along?
The answer is “no one wins”. Forcing the musicians into striking is as pointless as irritating a neighborhood dog until it attacks you. From that point on, whenever the dog sees you it’s going to look at you with hatred and distrust your every gesture.
Additionally, your neighbors will come to know you as nothing more than shortsighted sadistic bully who is content with behaving in a reprehensible manner just to satisfy a perceived need in the present.
I sooner expect to win the lottery before anyone from the POA would ever admit to such a strategy, but it is something the musicians and the Philadelphia Orchestra patrons should consider.