The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra recently announced a 30 percent cut in musician wages for the rest of 2020 and the 11/2/2020 edition of the San Francisco Chronical published an article by Joshua Kosman that provides important content.
- This is not a new deal, rather, a reopener, which is when both parties agree to amend terms in an existing agreement.
- The agreement’s full term is through November 2022.
- Given that the original agreement was ratified before the pandemic, the latter seasons include typical wage improvements.
While it may feel like “death by a thousand papercuts” to renegotiate subsequent short-term reopeners, it really is the best option.
Whatever grind both parties feel is offset by the commitment toward avoiding the pain that will come from making rash, long-term decisions that only build resentment if economic pressures aren’t long-lived. That commitment underscores trust that neither side is trying to use a crisis to their advantage and settling old bargaining scores. In turn, that trust helps reduce the time it takes to hammer out reopener terms.
San Francisco’s news serves as juxtaposition to other orchestra and opera employers that opted to use the pandemic to force through long-term, sizable concessions, such as the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic.
In both of those situations, the employer extracted themselves existing short-term agreement bargaining and began insisting on multi-year concessionary agreements. In the CSPhil’s case, they are going as far as attempting to cancel the entire collective bargaining agreement.
While anyone would be hard pressed to find a stakeholder who doesn’t understand the anxiety triggered by these sorts of economic pressures, organizations that realize the value of maintaining trust, cooperation, and shared sacrifice will be in a far better position to emerge faster and stronger than their peers.