If you find news coming out of the San Antonio Symphony (SAS) confusing, you’re not alone. The 501(c)3 which operates the SAS, Symphony Society of San Antonio (SSSA), has decided to cease operations and is turning over its mission driven activity to a brand-new nonprofit, Symphonic Music for San Antonio (SMSA).
SSSA isn’t filing bankruptcy nor are the organizations merging. This is even different than the pseudo-hostile takeover scenarios we’ve seen unfold in Columbus and Hartford over the past decade.
Instead, this is more akin to a Successor and Assignment scenario.
Contractually, a boilerplate successor and assignment clause is fairly straightforward: “This Agreement shall be binding upon and shall inure to the benefit of the parties and their permitted successors and assigns.”
In a successorship situation, one of the largest financial obligations the SMSA will assume is the musician’s labor agreement. Even though the current agreement expires Aug 31, 2017 that doesn’t mean the SMSA is free to simply walk away if negotiations don’t unfold as desired.
As an interesting aside, the current SAS master agreement does not contain any sort of successor and assignment clause. At the same time, that’s not likely to be a sticking point thanks to a string of National Labor Relations Board decisions that typically rule in favor of the employees. But it’s a fun geek point if you’re into that sort of thing.
Granted, this is a deep rabbit hole but it is difficult to refute that the organization is looking very much like it is in successorship status thanks to the SMSA stating their intent to carry on with mission driven activity with little change to how that’s carried out.
Additional details about expected event based activity were provided by the SMSA and reported in an article by David Hendricks for the 7/19/2017 edition of the San Antonio Express-News.
For now, the SMSA and SAS musicians are playing it cool by offering up let’s see where things go style statements.
SAS violinist and musicians’ negotiation committee chair, Craig Sorgi, told the Express-News “[the musicians] are looking forward to working with the new organization. We are still in (contract) negotiations, and the talks so far have been amicable. We’re looking forward to the start of the new season.”
For the SMSA’s perspective, one of what they define as a set of four guiding principles is reaching a “fair and reasonable” collective bargaining agreement with musicians. “Fair and reasonable” covers a lot of ground and given that the successor organization is comprised of stakeholders and funders who were dissatisfied with the SSSA’s expense structure, it is difficult to imagine that whatever transpires wouldn’t be closely related to maximum expenditure levels based on their historic giving levels.
For now, the SMSA is holding those cards close to their chest.