Colorado Springs Finally Has A Deal

All it took was more than a year and some of the pandemic-era labor dispute PR for the Colorado Springs Philharmonic’s executive leadership to end up pretty much right where could have landed a few short months into their dispute.

If you aren’t already familiar with the details, things became ugly following the employer’s decision to cancel the union agreement. Since then, the musicians offered sizeable financial and work rules concessions, just like the vast majority of their peers across the country, with the goal of mitigating pandemic woes.

For more than a year, the employer rebuffed those offers and dug in on their desire to eliminate the collective bargaining agreement entirely. The only other professional US orchestra that attempted to eliminate a union agreement was the Louisville Orchestra in 2011.

It did not end well for that organization.

Moving forward, the new three-year agreement incorporates many of the concessions musicians initially offered with annual improvements. While the musicians characterize the final year of the agreement as getting them “back to normal,” I reached out to CSPO bass trombonist and Chair of the Players Committee, Jeremy Van Hoy, to learn more.

With the 3 year agreement, it breaks down like this:

  • 59 (or 60) service guarantee in Year 1
  • 74 service guarantee in Year 2
  • 100/80 service guarantee in Year 3

So, Year 3 is our “normal” based on the previous contract. Per-service rates are deferred a year, but essentially pick up where we left off.

Where those per-service rates fall exactly is something that will become known once additional details are released.

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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