In 2011, the Louisville Orchestra had the dubious distinction of becoming the first professional US orchestra to attempt to cancel the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and replace those employees with replacement musicians. It didn’t end well.
The orchestra’s executive leadership took a beating in the court of public opinion and the dismissed musicians and their union colleagues across the country managed to hold firm. Along with their supporters, they managed to exert enough pressure to trigger a turnover in executive leadership and get a replacement CBA.
All of that happened on the heels of the housing bubble downturn when many orchestras were on the brink of bankruptcy.
Louisville’s situation has improved but it seems they are no longer going to be the sole member of the “we don’t need union musicians” club.
At the end of September 2020, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Board of Directors voted to cancel their union contract after declaring impasse.
I’ve reached out to both the musicians’ negotiating committee chair and the orchestra’s president and CEO for more information and given the severity of this situation, I’m giving both ample time to reply to follow-up questions.
We’ll take a much deeper dive into their feedback and more in a very detailed article on Monday.
In the meantime, here are some of the more sobering articles from the Louisville situation. If nothing else, I hope they serve as a reminder of just how ugly this type of situation can become.