More Labor Ripples

Earlier in the week, it was Omaha Symphony and this time it is the San Antonio Symphony…

According to an article in the 06/06/2007 edition of the San Antonio Express by Mike Greenberg the San Antonio Symphony (SAS) musicians have elected their Negotiating Committee to authorize a strike if there is no new agreement in place to replace their current collective bargaining agreement, which expires on August 31, 2007.

According to materials available on the SAS Musician’s website and blog as well as information from the Express article, the crux of the musicians dissatisfaction stems from the musicians desire to increase the number of weeks in the season from 26 to 30 as well as increase the base salary from $1000/week to $1060/week by the end of a three year contract.

Conversely, SAS management is proposing a slight increase in weekly base salary with the exception that the season remains 26 weeks in length for the duration of the contract term. Both sides have reportedly agreed to meet with a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to facilitate an amicable resolution to the negotiations.

Along with the recent developments in Omaha, what makes this situation interesting is how the musicians’ associations from both ensembles have approached setting the public tone of the discussion. In both organizations, the musicians have established website to help distribute their press releases and promotional pamphlets as well as provide contact information at their respective administrative offices for patrons and supports to express support.

SAS-Blog.jpgAlthough typically used to share an insider’s view of being a musician in the SAS, the SAS players are using their blog (a separate location from their players’ association website) to help disseminate their pamphlets. The image to your left is a screen capture from the SAS Musicians blog. Furthermore, they have even established a regular email newsletter which patrons and supporters can sign up to receive via their website.

The SAS website has no information about the current negotiations and the most recent press release (at the time of publication) was from late April 27, 2007. It has become apparent that the internet is becoming firmly entrenched as a tool in efforts to reach the minds and hearts of patrons. It will be interesting to see how those efforts develop over the coming months.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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