Speaking Of Labor Relations…

It appears that the intense labor dispute at the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra (OSB) has moved to the next level. Following management’s decision to officially dismiss nearly half of the rostered musicians, the orchestra has scheduled auditions in Rio de Janeiro, New York City, and London…

In New York, Local 802 AFM distributed the following notice to members and the media:

Brazilian Symphony Orchestra Audition Alert

The Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira (OSB) is organizing auditions in New York City on May 20 – 23, 2011 to fill the positions of unfairly dismissed OSB musicians. The officers of the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM request that musicians not participate in these auditions because doing so undermines the OSB musicians who were improperly terminated.

In March, nearly half of the orchestra was dismissed by Music Director Roberto Minczuk for insubordination after they refused to comply with management’s demands that they re-audition for their jobs.  Since then, outrage over the situation has spread and musicians all over the world solidly stand in support of the dismissed musicians.

We are requesting that the musicians of Local 802 boycott these auditions.

Local 802 stands firm with the OSB musicians and, as a member union of Federation Internationale des Musiciens, we will be doing everything in our power to discourage musicians from participating in these auditions. We need to support our colleagues in their time of need.

Do not audition for the Orquestra Sinfonica Brasiliera.

Respectfully submitted by the Officers of the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada.

At the time this article was published, the English version of the audition section at the OSB website does not contain information about compensation or working conditions. It will be fascinating to see if any additional information is posted between now and the audition along with how the New York auditions unfold at the end of the month.

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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0 thoughts on “Speaking Of Labor Relations…”

  1. Drew-

    The remuneration figures on the OSB website offered for the 2011 season (www.osb.com.br) are a little convoluted, but I think this is what is being offered. There appears to be a base monthly salary of R$ 6000, plus a bump per player category of R$0 to R$1200, plus a broadcast/recording rights fee of R$ 2167, plus an additional fee per concert of R$150 to R$210. Assuming 8 concerts per month, this all results in a range of remuneration between R$9367 to R$11047 monthly.

    Today’s exchange rate is R$ 1.60 = US$1.00, so the equivalent is US$5954 to US$6904 per month. I assume this is only paid during the 8-9 months of a typical Brasilian season. There are also benefits including a health plan, but I don’t have these details.

    It is not exactly slave labor we are discussing here, I think. (assuming my “muito mal portugese” is up to the translation task)

  2. Conditions of work are pretty good and did a bit of talking with other Brazilian professional musicians, not from Rio and with the ones that stayed with the orchestra (not dismissed) and there, locally in Brazil the understanding is a quite different of what the AFM is saying or posting here.

    This boycott action promoted by the AFM is a non sense thing, no one was sacked as more than half of the orchestra members did not agree with their union and decided not to take part of this rebellious movement.

    Many Brazilian musicians will also participate of these auditions as the proposed salary is very good when comparing with many local orchestras and globally speaking.

    Here is what I got from the OSB website:

    COMPENSATION (2011 Season Salary)
    Category I yearly R$ 111.312,65 (approximately US$ 4.478.02 at present rate)
    Category II yearly R$ 105.579,33 (approximately US$ 62.105,48 at present rate)
    Category III yearly R$ 99.845,99 (approximately US$ 58.732,94 at present rate)
    Tutti yearly R$ 88.379,33 (approximately US$ 51.987.64 at present rate)

    Employment conditions shall be in compliance with the Brazilian Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT), including a year-end bonus (13th salary) and paid vacation (plus 1/3 salary**), health care insurance, local public ransportation tickets and FGTS*.
    * FGTS: “Working Time Fund” benefit. One monthly salary per year in case of dismissal.
    ** Vacation:salary plus 1/3 of monthly wages is paid when the musician has its vacation period.
    *** US dollar exchange rate in January 2011: US$ 1 = R$ 1,70

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