Negotiation Update 2016

Most professional orchestra collective bargaining agreements expire during the summer months and since the economic downturn, it is increasingly common to see groups continue negotiating past the current agreement’s expiration date.

Adaptistration People 079A decade ago, that used be cause for alarm but in today’s environment, it is practically standard operating procedure assuming groups don’t manage to wrap things up months in advance. Last season witnessed nearly a dozen middle to large budget size orchestras cross that line and the count for this year is a bit lower.

Out of the 10 groups with agreements that expired over the summer, five have already ratified new agreements, four are continuing negotiations via play and talk arrangements, and one is engaged in a work stoppage.

  • Baltimore Symphony: ratified new agreement (details)
  • Buffalo Philharmonic: ratified new agreement (details)
  • Fort Worth Symphony: agreement expired, work stoppage, strike
  • Milwaukee Symphony: ratified new agreement (details not yet public)
  • National Symphony: agreement expired, play and talk
  • North Carolina Symphony: ratified new agreement (details not yet public)
  • Pacific Symphony: agreement expired, play and talk
  • Philadelphia Orchestra: agreement expired, play and talk
  • Pittsburgh Symphony: agreement expired, play and talk
  • San Diego Symphony: ratified new agreement (details)

We’ll continue to follow the five outliers as details unfold.

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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