The Sunday, 7/10/2010 edition of the Dallas Morning News published an article by music critic Scott Cantrell that calls the labor dispute between the Richardson Symphony Orchestra (RSO) and its musicians a “showdown.” That description certainly adds to the western flavor of events, nonetheless, the RSO could have employed a much better solution that would have avoided all of this conflict…
Simply put, the RSO board could have voted to dissolve the institution, file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, liquidate all assets, and start an organization anew. According to public statements and media reports, the RSO has had financial trouble for some time, is carrying a 14 percent deficit, and has no cash reserves or lines of credit so it wouldn’t be difficult to justify liquidation bankruptcy.
Furthermore, this would have allowed them to form the new organization any way they wished; meaning, with or without a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by a labor union. Add to that the opportunity to replace maestro Brusilow with someone less, shall we say, unfiltered and they would have been in a much stronger position to build the organization they desired.
Granted, they would have inevitably encountered some resistance from the American Federation of Musicians if they attempted to form a new orchestra outside the auspices of a collective bargaining agreement but that would have been a molehill compared to the current mountain of conflict they’ve developed so far.
Given the amount of right-to-work vs. organized labor rhetoric coming out of the RSO, it seems clear that’s the battle they want to fight. From the RSO leadership’s perspective, this isn’t apparently about live orchestral music any more, it’s a political issue. If the goal was to continue providing concerts to the community and supplying a demand, it would be cheaper, easier, and ultimately more productive to shut down the troubled group in favor of starting anew.
That might be considered by some as a reasonable solution but whether or not the RSO considered it, or will consider it, is unknown. At the same time, all of this brings to mind one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes: “Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute.”