According to press statements, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) and its musicians are getting back to the bargaining table with the first round of sessions scheduled for Friday, April 5, 2019. One difference this time around is the sessions will include Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service (FMCS) negotiator, Kevin Hawkins.
Chicago won’t be Hawkins’ first orchestra negotiation. In 2015, he worked with the Utah Symphony & Opera on their collective bargaining agreement.
Update, 4/4/2019, 9:00am CT: According to CSOA Communications and Public Relations Officer, Eileen Chambers, both sides have been using a FMCS negotiator intermittently since September, shortly before the expiration of the previous master agreement. However, the FMCS negotiator assigned to the project at that time was Javier Ramirez.
“Mr. Javier Ramirez participated in the negotiation sessions on September 12, 13, 14 and 15, 2018,” said Chambers.
Mr. Hawkins was assigned to the CSO negotiations in February, 2019.
For now, everyone is tight-lipped about remaining details but, in most cases, some talking is better than no talking, even if it’s through a mediator.
Fun fact: when both parties aren’t in the same room and using a mediator to deliver messages back and forth and hash out positions, that’s called shuttle negotiation.
It’s just about the dullest method of bargaining available. It also…adds…time…to…the…process. Consequently, if the CSOA and musicians are in separate rooms using shuttle negotiation, don’t expect any breaking news on Friday.