After months of closed door and blackout negotiations, the musicians and management of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) went public last week to present their bargaining positions. On 7/30/2010, the DSO musicians leafleted a Meadow Brook Music Festival performance (copy, courtesy of the Detroit News) and both sides have presented their positions via an article by Lawrence B. Johnson in the 7/31/2010 edition of the Detroit News…
For the most part, Johnson’s article reports no real surprises in either side’s position. So far, it does appear that both sides are looking for and willing to provide steep cuts in compensation and benefits but the main difference is the musicians assert that these concessions be more or less temporary in nature while management claims they become permanent adjustment.
But what should catch everyone’s attention here is that the DSO is proposing to eliminate tenure and completely restructure musician job descriptions to require a large amount of non-playing responsibilities. The caveat here is this proposal only goes into effect, if the musicians fail to accept a separate proposal by August 28, 2010 which does not include those provisions. Set aside that the union representing the DSO musicians will likely file an unfair labor practice charge over that bargaining position, the very notion of eliminating tenure as a fundamental negotiation position is tantamount to collective bargaining fighting words.
Consequently, if the DSO maintains eliminating tenure as a fundamental tenet for financial and institutional stability, it will be interesting to see how this will be quantifiably justified.
In the meantime, you can follow positions at the DSO and musician websites: