San Antonio Symphony Musicians File Legal Charges

Although it feels like it has been flying under the radar a bit in light of events in Indianapolis and Atlanta, events in San Antonio reached a new level on 9/4/2012 when the musicians of the San Antonio Symphony (SAS) issued a press statement to announce they filed an NLRB charge against the SAS for “unilaterally chang[ing] wages, hours, and conditions of employment of employees employed in a bargaining unit for which the charging party is the exclusive representative; and failed and refused to bargain in good faith with the charging party.”

The SAS situation is intriguing in that it is the polar opposite of what’s been unfolding in Indianapolis where the board of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has been launching PR salvos at musicians claiming they have been unwilling to negotiate within a reasonable time frame.

headphonesIf you’re interested in listening in on a closed door style conversation about the state of the field within the context of current labor disputes, then you’re in luck as Texas Public Radio (TPR) published an uncharacteristically casual and frank conversation I had with host John Clare on 9/5/2012. Although it was most certainly an interview recorded for the purpose of broadcasting, it comes across much more like a casual yet earnest conversation that just so happened to get recorded. The material was recorded on Labor Day, Monday 9/3/2012 so don’t forget that everything in Atlanta and Indianapolis had yet to explode.

My thanks to John Clare and TPR for providing such a luxurious amount of time to really dig into the good, the bad, and the ugly going on right now. There are two segments, one at the top of the page and the remaining interview is available at the end. If a Good Samaritan reader out there has the time and is so inclined to put together a transcription of the conversation, please let me know and I’ll be happy to give you loads of credit and you can plug whatever you like.

[ilink url=”” style=”tick”]Listen to the Texas Public Radio interview.[/ilink]

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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