Drama seems to be the status quo in Philadelphia these past months. Yesterday, the musicians and management agreed to extend the recent contract negotiation extension another 10 days.
Philadelphia Inquirer critic and columnist Peter Dobrin has been doing a great job keeping everyone informed of events over the past few days. One of his recent articles reports that the Philadelphia Orchestra Association (management) turned down a recent offer by musicians to create a one year contract and instead proposed a final offer that was similar to their first contract offer.
If those reports are accurate and management’s positions have changed very little over the course of the bargaining sessions, then it’s a very bad sign. Some of the Philadelphia players have been quoted anonymously in the press as saying that they honestly feel like the POA wants them to go on strike.
Absolutely no one wins in a scenario like that and the POA apparently isn’t thinking about this situation very dynamically. Back in July, I wrote about the futility of forcing the players into a strike in an attempt to reduce expenditures enough to erase the current budget deficits.
Throughout these talks I’ve witnessed the Philadelphia musicians make a number of constructive offers to help solve their organization’s current financial problems and be partners in creating a stable future. The only issues they seem to be firmly against are those directly related to the artistic quality of the organization so if the POA refuses to meet them at a common ground all that’s left is a strike.
But what if the players don’t follow through with a strike the way the POA might anticipate? What will management do if after they’ve saved the money they want from a strike but the musicians won’t settle? What happens if the “controlled burn” of a forced strike turns into an uncontrollable inferno?
Have you ever heard of an inferno story with a happy ending before?