Robert Levine posted an intriguing piece over at Abu Bratsche on 3/6/2009 regarding ongoing developments with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (WCO) negotiations. Never the dull writer, Robert launches the post with this gem, “Labor disputes never bring out the best in employers, and orchestras are no exception.”…
Robert goes on to point out that he thinks it looks like the WCO is making use of regressive bargaining practices by removing previous offers on service guarantees and replacing them with proposed a 40 percent reduction (and the option of up to 54 percent) in guaranteed services. Robert also points out that based on the article he referenced (which appeared in the 3/4/09 edition of 77square.com), it doesn’t appear that the organization’s executive director plans to reduce his compensation in tandem with proposed musician cuts.
“Even more respectful is the lack of any hint that Gerhart’s income from the WCO is going to drop by a penny, much less by the percentage he proposes to slash out of the income of his per-service workers. And yet his workload would diminish significantly by cutting the number of performances, no? So how about making him equally “well-compensated” proportionally to the amount of product he’s supervising?”
It doesn’t take much to uncover that, historically, concessions in this business are best obtained by instituting a sincere policy of shared pain. In fact, this was the second point in a list of guidelines I created for a meaningful approach to concessions. In a related issue here, the WCO has yet to offer any details behind their latest round of what Robert defines as regressive offers. So in order to learn more I contacted the Daniel A. Kaplan, the attorney representing the WCO for these negotiations, and asked him whether or not any members of management or the music director taken a reduction in compensation during the 2008/2009 season or plan to take a reduction in compensation during the 2009/10 season along with details behind their latest bargaining proposal.
Although Mr. Kaplan has acknowledged receipt of the questions he has not yet responded. Nonetheless, I’m sure all of Adaptistration’s readers will be interested in learning more behind the WCO’s reasoning and hopefully, Mr. Kaplan will be able to shed some light on these matters by the end of the week.