All Quiet On The Texan Front

UPDATE: It looks like cooler heads are prevailing for the time being as the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra (FWSO) has decided against imposing a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) after musicians rejected what they called their last best, final offer. As of now, there are no firm plans on whether or not both sides plan to return to bargaining so for the time being, it is a hurry up and wait scenario.

Given the lack of any immediate cash flow problem combined with the orchestra’s upcoming gala concert on 2/6/16, it makes sense for the employer to avoid tempting the musicians to strike. But in the absence of scheduled bargaining sessions, a work stoppage could happen at any point.

Original article continues, below.

In the wake of furious media activity surrounding a board enforced deadline to either accept a last, best, and final CBA offer or force having the agreement imposed, stakeholders at the FWSO have been quiet.

No TalkingAt the time this article was written, there is no hint from the musicians’ negotiation committee that they plan to use their recently granted strike authorization to initiate a work stoppage. Since the deadline, activity on their official Facebook page has been minimal and unrelated to the labor dispute while the most recent press statement via their website is from 1/22/16.

The first scheduled concert activity since the agreement was imposed is 1/29/16 and if the musicians intend to exercise their right to strike, that could trigger the action but if the they follow traditional patterns, you can expect them to target the orchestra’s gala concert on 2/6/16.

Moreover, if the union representing the musicians, Local 72-147, American Federation of Musicians, has filed an unfair labor charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to challenge the imposed agreement, it has yet to appear on the NLRB’s online case database. There’s one for the Colorado Symphony’s contentious labor dispute, but nothing yet from Fort Worth.

Having said that, there was some orchestra news out of Texas in the form of Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s music director, Jaap van Zweden, announcement he’s leaving for the New York Philharmonic to replace Alan Gilbert beginning with the 2017/18 season.

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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