Don’t Expect Details Anytime Soon

According to Gwen Pappas, Minnesota Orchestra Association’s (MOA) Director of Public Relations, it may take “several weeks” for the organization’s new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to be released. Pappas was the first to respond to requests for a copy of the CBA and at the time this post was written, a musician representative has yet to reply. At the same time, follow-up questions to the MOA about whether or not the agreement had any outstanding language to be finalized have not been answered.

Adaptistration People 136Even though both sides have been happy to pronounce the settlement, the same energy hasn’t accompanied efforts to share contractual details. But among the rough bits of info to shake loose was the decision to require substitute musicians to should larger cuts in base compensation than contract musicians.

In addition to the substitute musician pay disparity issue we’ve been examining over the past few days in a pair of articles and a poll (not to mention a string of exhaustive yet fascinating comment
threads), the CBA will shed light on a host of other unknowns such as the complement and instrumentation of the 77 contracted musicians, how they plan to address key musician vacancies, which positions will be filled over the next two seasons, which work rules in particular were modified, etc.

Simply put, there will be no shortage of topics to review.

In the meantime, I invite everyone back for tomorrow’s post where we’ll not only take a closer look at the Parity Poll results; which as of the time this post was written, are skewing heavily toward favoring equal pay for equal work between contracted and substitute musicians. We’ll also look at a solution to this issue that has yet to be attempted in this field and holds genuine game changer potential on this issue. Stay tuned…

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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4 thoughts on “Don’t Expect Details Anytime Soon”

  1. I’d like to add a comment about something that doesn’t seem to have been mentioned yet regarding the issue of substitute pay at MSO: the new settlement provides that the number of full time players will be less than before, which means that in many cases and depending on the repertoire, MSO may end up hiring more subs than normal to round out the forces and/or using some subs for more services than before, in which case a sub’s total “take” for the season might end up being more than it would have been had the total number of full time musicians remained as it was. Perhaps this was a point of consideration in the settlement discussions. Also, although MSO will realize cost savings from not having to pay health costs and other benefits by having fewer full time musicians, it will be interesting to see how much of those savings are eaten up by staffing up with more subs, again dependent on the repertoire. The word optics comes to mind here. So, let’s check back on this in a while.

    • Those are all excellent questions but in the end, it really comes down to a few salient possibilities.

      1) Was the need for having a pay discrepancy a deal-breaker for the MOA?
      2)Once the final concessions were known, was the MOA unwilling to engage in the zero sum bargaining they have been purporting throughout the course lockout in order to maintain parity?
      3) Did the musicians have a bottom line for base salary, even if it meant requiring substitute musicians to accept a greater cut?

      Within each of those questions are a myriad of excellent items to examine, such as the scenario you’re considering. As of now, the one thing we know is neither side is talking about it.

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