Fort Worth Symphony Musicians Ratify New Four Year Agreement

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]There’s a good article in the 12/7/2016 edition of the Star-Telegram by Andrea Ahles that examines some of the key terms from the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s new four-year agreement. The most interesting part isn’t so much the details as it is about the anonymous large donor.

Adaptistration People 008The article reports that a $700,000 donation became the carrot to get both sides out of entrenched positions. Regarding base musician salary, the gift covered enough of the distance between the sharp cuts proposed by the employer and the increases proposed by musicians.

Consequently, this allowed both sides a meaningful solution to save face and any time a dispute with this much animosity can resolve without the need for a loser in order for there to be a winner, it’s a good thing.

The agreement provides wage freezes for the first two seasons followed by a two percent increase in season three and 2.5 percent in season four. Paid vacation days will be reduced from 35 to 28, but in the long run, that’s probably far better than not for the musicians (more on that topic here).

This was much different than the previous four-year tentative agreement musicians ultimately rejected that called for cuts as high as 6.5 percent over the first three seasons and a 3.5 percent increase in the final season. Likewise, the ratified agreement maintains flat health insurance premiums where the previous offer included offloading increases to musicians.

It will be interesting to see what else may have changed in the new agreement. We’ll see about obtaining a list of those changes and if they become available, take a closer look.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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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