Over my holiday break, there wasn’t much change among groups embroiled in labor disputes. The key word there is “much” and one positive change that transpired came from the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO).
On 12/28/2020 the employer and musicians issued a joint press statement announcing they reached an agreement that covers the remainder of the 20/21 season. While details surrounding the specific issues at the root of the dispute are not explicitly mentioned in the release, it does appear that the employer walked back some of the service requirements that musicians asserted caused more financial harm than being furloughed.
According the agreement, musicians return to work on 2/1/2021 and began drawing 80 percent of their weekly pay beginning this week. The statement included quotes from employer and musician representatives:
“The pandemic handed the KSO one of the biggest challenges it has ever faced,” KSO Board Chair Bill Riley said. “While we have much work yet to do, I thank the musicians – who are the heart of our organization – for their efforts over the last several weeks as we persevered in reaching an agreement. I am confident that we will emerge from this critical time in our history stronger than ever.”
“We are all looking forward to bringing music back to our patrons and the Knoxville community, especially during this challenging time,” said Stacy Nickell, a cellist for the KSO and Orchestra Committee chair. “I am glad we were able to reach an agreement, as we all need the healing power of music. The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra can continue to grow and thrive despite the pandemic, thanks to the collaborative effort of our many talented musicians and creative staff.”
All things being equal, this should provide the organization enough wiggle room to roll with the remaining pandemic punches while keeping an eye on a longer term agreement in a post-vaccine environment.