Reader Request: How Do Negotiations Work?

I’ve been combing through the 2015 reader surveys and one response to the question “Which topics you would like to see covered?” caught my attention; specifically, the reader wanted to know about how the bargaining process actually worked. The reader indicated a level of frustration with traditional media coverage in that it doesn’t describe what actually happens during negotiations.

Adaptistration People 018Fortunately, the negotiation process was one of the very first topics covered at length here at Adaptistration back in 2004 via a quartet of articles. They are all just as timely now as they were a decade ago although the installment covering how the actual bargaining process works was updated in 2010 with an improved flowchart.

That article is a good place to begin if you’re looking for info on the step by step process and potential outcomes from a successful or unsuccessful ratification process.

As such, if you’re looking for a boat load of knowledge about a crucial element within the orchestra field and love the rush that follows a streamlined data intake, this is going to make your day.

Here’s the complete set:

  • The Negotiation Process: How It Works

    The first step at better understanding how your local orchestra functions as an organization is to understand the basic principles behind the document that deals with nearly every facet of its operations: the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

  • The Negotiation Process: Why Bother?

    Say, why do orchestra musicians bother being part of an organized labor union?

  • The Negotiation Process: A Historical Timeline

    The manner in which contract negotiations have developed over the past 50 years has been fast and furious. Even the term “traditional bargaining” is in itself, not very accurate since it’s only been used for the past 40 years or so.

  • The Negotiation Process: Who Does What

    Board, administrative, and musician stakeholders all influence the process in different fashion.

Feel free to send along any questions about any item in the above articles.

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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2 thoughts on “Reader Request: How Do Negotiations Work?

  1. I was going to suggest you link back to the posts wrote about the mock negotiation sessions you did with Andrew Taylor’s classes way back when. Those are some of my most favorite posts.

    It may be cynical of me but as I thought about it in the context of the orchestra negotiation problems in recently years, I am not sure if readers would learn too much more about the process except that there isn’t much difference in the stances taken by orchestra boards and graduate students with an hour’s training.

  2. That’s a good idea, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it to begin with. That experience was one of the most genuinely productive sessions I can recall in that it was able to capitalize on an approach that can’t often be reproduced; i.e. successfully replace the mock setting with real world conditions. It’s akin to training soldiers with live ammunition as opposed to running around shouting “bang, your dead!”

    Here are some links to those articles:
    UW-Madison Mock Negotiation Reflections Part 1
    UW-Madison Mock Negotiation Reflections Part 2
    Mock Negotiations: Contrasts & Comparisons
    When An Academic Exercise Becomes Reality

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