Negotiations update

September 29, 2008 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

On September 15 and 16 we met with management to continue to try and reach agreement on a new contract.  At the suggestion of Doug Gerhart, our new executive director, we met with only the musicians, the Federal Mediator, and Martha and Doug; the lawyers from Foley and Lardner and Nathan Kahn, AFM negotiator were out of the room.

We were hopeful, when Doug suggested this arrangement, that we would finally be able to find a common ground and start to make progress towards a fair contract.  Unfortunately, we were met with the same kind of resistance as we had when the lawyers were present.  Despite our repeated attempts to explain our position and reiterate industry standards, many of our proposals were met with simple rejections or deferrals (“let’s talk about something else”).  It turned out that even though the lawyers were out of the room, they were camped out in a conference room down the hall ready to (help) make the final decisions whenever we took breaks.  We were, once again, able to make some progress on small issues.  However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the sides have major philosophical differences in what the purpose of a contract should be.  Management seems to think that a contract is about money and power, while we think a contract is there to protect us in the workplace and provide us with a quality of life we can rely on.

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In these 2 days of negotiations, management continued to reject our big issues.  They were using the stall tactic of giving us very small concessions and trying to discuss every possible issue all over again in the hopes that we’d continue to talk through the first masterworks concert.  We believe that we made every normal and reasonable effort to resolve our issues and nothing worked.  On Tuesday at noon, we walked out of Foley and Lardner’s offices and left the message with management that when they have a proposal that gives progressive movement on one of our main issues, we’ll consider coming back to the table.

On Monday morning, September 29, we returned to Foley and Lardner with all parties present.  To our surprise, management made progressive movement on several of our big issues.  We were excited to be making headway, but towards the end of the day we once again ran into anti-union road blocks.  We were told that all proposals put on the table were contingent on the musicians’ agreeing to withhold any job action or work stoppage.   Their coercive tactics were disappointing in light of the progress we thought was being made.

While we greatly appreciate the movement put forth by Doug Gerhart and believe it will lead to a more favorable agreement, there are still several extremely important issues outstanding.  We are still waiting for a reasonable proposal regarding attendance percentage for our part-time orchestra.  In addition, we are seeking a proposal regarding a musician’s right to appeal any artistic discipline to a jury of their peers: an industry standard provision.  We are hoping these proposals come soon enough so that we can avoid a work stoppage during our first masterworks concert.

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  1. I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work 🙂


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