Although you wouldn’t know it from local press, but if appears that the Spokane Symphony Orchestra (SSO) and its musicians are approaching a potential showdown. According to the SSO musicians, management offered a last, best, and final offer on Thursday 10/11/12. The two year proposal reportedly contains a 13 percent reduction in core orchestra salary, no guaranteed wages for the second year, and what the musicians characterize as an overly restrictive attendance policy that will make earning additional pay outside of the SSO more difficult.
(Updated 10/1/2012 11:45pm CT) It was a busy weekend in the crisis coral: the musicians at the Minnesota Orchestra (MO) and Richmond (VA) Symphony Orchestra (RSO) officially rejected final offers from their respective employers while the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO) musicians began filing for unemployment.
One of the latest additions to this season’s list of labor discontent is the Richmond (VA) Symphony Orchestra (RSO) where the previous collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expired on August 31, 2012. Since then, the group has been engaged in play-and-talk but the musicians went public on 9/20/2012 and issued a statement reassuring patrons they would not strike.
Word on the street in Richmond, VA is the proposed legislation (VA HB 1254) to bar orchestra musicians from collecting unemployment during non-employed weeks is ostensibly dead in the water. The representative responsible for introducing the legislation, at the behest of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra (RSO) board and executive director, officially withdrew it from consideration by the state’s Commerce and Labor Sub-Committee; but now, the real fun begins.
One of the ongoing challenges related to examining orchestra negotiation issues is taking something with a relatively large number of dynamic variables and editing it down to point where you don’t need intimate knowledge of multiple components in order to identify and understand the related issues. Some topics are better suited to this than others while some are stubbornly immune. Case in point, the recent unemployment benefit negotiation brouhaha in Richmond, VA.