Although a 15 hour negotiating session on December 14, 2007 yielded $1.25 million in concessions from musicians, the Jacksonville Symphony Association (JSA) and the Jacksonville Symphony Players’ Association (JSPA) were unable to craft a final agreement. As a result, the current lockout will continue well into the opening weeks of 2008. Furthermore, the JSA will carry out plans to cancel musician health care coverage at the end of December…
According to a musician spokesperson, most of the points in the
musician’s five year offer were agreed on in principle between both
sides. These included:
- A salary freeze for the first three years, a 2.5 percent increase in year four, and a 3 percent increase in year five.
- 37 week season for the term of the contract.
- Switching to a new health insurance provider that includes coverage for domestic partners.
- Eliminating three overscale positions for titled chairs. These positions would revert to the base pay formula.
The majority of outstanding items consisted of a much smaller percent of the concessions the JSA has been calling for. These include:
- Per-service pay scale (per service musicians are most
often substitute players). Currently, the JSA is proposing a 20 percent
average reduction in per-service scale.
- A .5 percent difference in pension contributions during the contract term (musicians are asking for 6 percent for the entire term whereas the JSA proposed 5.5 percent for the first three years and then 6 percent for the final two).
- Work rule language related to personal leave days.
One area where the JSA was willing to consider concessions
on their part was what to do with the musician’s lost pay during the
lockout. According to the musician’s spokesperson, the JSA agreed to
fold that pay into future seasons, thereby allowing a pay freeze as
opposed to a pay cut in the first three years of the contract.
Perhaps most disheartening is that even though the bargaining
session produced significant concessions from the musicians, the JSA
has informed the JSPA Negotiating Committee that they will not be able
to meet again until Tuesday, January 8, 2007. Furthermore, since all of
the above issues were agreed on only in principle, the JSA will cancel musician health care coverage at the end of December, 2007.
Given how close both sides came to reaching requirements
initially set forth by the JSA, it is discouraging to see the JSA
refuse to schedule any additional bargaining sessions in an effort to avert terminating health care coverage. Calls to the JSA asking
about the December 14 bargaining session were not returned.
In the meantime, the JSO musicians are giving two benefit
concerts. The first on Friday, December 21 features pianist Leon
Fleisher will perform Mozart’s Concerto for 2 Pianos with Katherine Jacobson Fleisher and lead the orchestra in Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. The second event is a Messiah
Sing-Along on Saturday, December 22. Admission to both events is free
and tax-deductible donations to the JSPA’s Health & Welfare Fund
will be accepted. For more information about either concert event or to
make a donation online, you can visit the JSPA website. Jacksonville Symphony ticket holders and patrons may contact the JSA box office at 904-354-5547 or visit the organization’s website for information about scheduled concert events.
On a related note, Edmonton Symphony music director and co-author of Sticks and Drones published a wonderful op-ed piece which brings the lockout mess into razor-sharp clarity. Similarly, a recent post
from Charleston City Paper arts editor, John Stoehr, paints an equally
clear picture of the possible motives behind the lack of involvement
among senior political leaders in Jacksonville. Both articles are worth