Colorado Springs Philharmonic Employer Rejects Musician Offer To Waive An Entire Season Of Salary

It appears mediation in the Colorado Springs Philharmonic labor dispute is running into difficulties. The musicians released a public statement on 11/5/2020 to inform supporters that their recent offer to waive an entire season’s salary made was rejected.

Most recently, working with a federal mediator, we offered to accept the total loss of our guaranteed salaries for the entire period of the pandemic and for six months beyond the end of the pandemic. Today, representatives of the CSPO decided that wasn’t enough for them.

If you’re wondering what more there is to concede past an entire season’s salary, the musicians assert the employer continues to insist the musicians accept their decision to terminate the collective bargaining agreement in full and moving forward, work as non-union at-will employees with no service guarantees.

They have made clear that the only resolution they will accept is one that affirms management’s unlawful termination of the five-year agreement they signed only five months ago.

The big question now is “what’s next?” According to Jeremy Van Hoy, CSPhil bass trombonist and Chair of the Players Committee, the musicians have made it clear they prefer to find a mediated settlement.

“[The musicians] are willing to enter into negotiations over a new CBA but cannot withdraw our grievances as a condition of entering into those negotiations,” said Van Hoy. “That is where the stalemate occurred.  So, our options are 1) Arbitration or 2) Bargain a new CBA now.  #1 is looking very likely at this time.”

Read the full press statement:

PHILHARMONIC ABANDONS COMMITMENT TO MUSICIANS
November 5, 2020

(Colorado Springs, Colorado) The Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra (CSPO) illegally cancelled its contract with Musicians in September. Starting long before that, the  Musicians of the CSPO have been in discussions with CSPO management about how best to  share the sacrifices needed for the organization to endure the pandemic. For six months we  have been offering concessions. Management has rejected each and every offer.

Most recently, working with a federal mediator, we offered to accept the total loss of our  guaranteed salaries for the entire period of the pandemic and for six months beyond the end of  the pandemic. Today, representatives of the CSPO decided that wasn’t enough for them. They  have made clear that the only resolution they will accept is one that affirms management’s unlawful termination of the five-year agreement they signed only five months ago.

“Their vision for the future doesn’t seem to involve a professional orchestra,” says cellist  Sarah Wilson. “The five-year agreement we bargained assured the continuation of our  decades-long trajectory of artistic excellence. When the pandemic ends, Colorado Springs still  deserves a professional orchestra. Management’s position will all but ensure that Colorado  Springs won’t have one.”

Given CSPO management’s intransigence and its failure to participate in federal  mediation in any meaningful way, the Musicians are forced to consider all of our options going  forward, including arbitration of CSPO’s illegal termination of our contract. We stand united and  determined to preserve our orchestra for our community, which deserves the joyful experiences  the Philharmonic has promised.

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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