Talking Equal Pay For Equal Work And The MN Substitute Disparity With Robert Levine On SoundNotion.TV

On 1/19/2015, Robert Levine and I discussed the implications of the 2014 Minnesota Orchestra collective bargaining agreement (CBA) provision that established a substitute musician per service rate at 90% of their full-time colleagues. The equal pay for equal work oriented discussion was streamed live on SoundNotion.TV at 10:00am ET and moderated by SN’s David MacDonald and Sam Merciers.

Adaptistration People 145I am grateful to both MacDonald and Merciers for not only taking the time to facilitate the discussion but for also rising to the challenges related to moderating such a sensitive issue. Likewise, I am equally appreciative that Levine accepted my invitation to conduct a live video conversation hosted at SN for what has been unfolding as an online exchange via our respective blogs.

My apologies to everyone for not making the live stream known in advance but all parties managed to pull the idea together in remarkably short order and as a result, the details weren’t finalized until shortly before the conversation was underway.

For those who have been following this topic, this moderated and refreshingly frank discussion goes a very long way toward filling in many of the gaps that exist in recent public discourse while simultaneously remaining very focused on the issues at hand. You can watch the archived video at SN’s YouTube channel as well as the copy below.

In addition to the video discussion, SN recorded the after-show conversation in audio format and simply put, it’s a must-hear component thanks to an additional layer of candid and thoughtful Q&A. Simply put, MacDonald and Merciers deserve an enormous amount of kudos for their work as hosts and provocateurs; the interviews not only cement their reputation as one of the most influential culture blog platforms introduced in recent years but this discussion has the genuine potential to serve as a catalyst for positive action.

For additional perspective, you can catch up on some the larger discussion points referenced during the video discussion by visiting Levine’s posts (here and here) along with Adaptistration’s entries.

Rest assured, we’ll explore this critical topic in future installments but for now, there’s a good bit to consume and digest via the video and audio offerings.

Up through this point in time, there has been a good bit of emotionally charged conversation on the issue of substitute parity in general and the MN sub disparity in particular, so do yourself a favor and set aside the time to absorb both offerings as they do more than their fair share at keeping the conversation on track.

And once you’ve had a chance to watch and listen, send in your thoughts, observations, and questions via comment or contact. The more transparency and discussion the better and to that end, I’m curious to know what you think.

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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9 thoughts on “Talking Equal Pay For Equal Work And The MN Substitute Disparity With Robert Levine On SoundNotion.TV”

  1. A very worthy conversation, this should not be brushed under the rug. Certainly everyone is tired, but some of us watching from the sidelines are tired of convenient contradictions as we pay full price for “discounted” musicians on stage.

  2. This was such a productive conversation, the section after the show was great, Sam’s question about the musicians owning up to their decision as a way to draw attention to paying subs less is fantastic. I also like seeing the hosts ask some of the obvious questions that are getting overlooked such as that and using something like a mitigation fund as an incentive to make sure the union gets parity into the contract. I absolutely love that last point because it makes such clear sense and it gives the musicians a “way out” if they don’t think they have any other options but to accept paying subs less.

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