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Category: Negotiation

A Disgusting New Low

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This post originally appeared on the blog Mask of the Flower Prince.  It is reprinted here with permission. You know, over the course of the Minnesota Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera labor disputes, I’ve seen a lot of ugly things. Managements in both the disputes resorted to hard-ball tactics and inflammatory rhetoric as part of a

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Bringing Down the Sky: From Great to Good in Minnesota

3 Michael Manley

I. The Tornado and the Plow Horse I recently plugged the words “Salieri” and “Festival” into Google, which limped back with a meager Salieri Opera Festival of 2010, presented by Fondazione Fioroni in Verona, Italy. Curious, I added “2013” to the search, and Google came back with only three results, none of which led to

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When Musicians Need Lawyers

0 Stephen Danyew

Polyphonic.org Editor-in-Chief Ramon Ricker recently contributed to International Musician, the official journal of the American Federation of Musicians with an article titled “When Musicians Need Lawyers.”  In the article, Dr. Ricker covers important topics regarding situations when musicians should consult with an attorney and how musicians can find the right lawyer for them.  To read

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How Hard Substantive Change Really Is In This Business

0 Robert Levine

In light of the recent settlement of the SPCO’s long lockout, it’s worth revisiting the events of 2003, when the SPCO embarked on a radical departure from past practice regarding institutional governance. Five perspectives are provided; those of the mediators/facilitators, Fred Zenone and Paul Boulian, that of the President and CEO, Bruce Coppock, that of

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Working Together: Orchestra Musicians, Boards and Management

3 Bill Cahn

The Wall Street Journal for Friday, June 7, 2013 carries an article in the “D” Section, “After Orchestras Strike: A Tale of Two Cities” by Terry Teachout. The article compares the ways in which two orchestras – The Minnesota Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony – are dealing with their financial problems.   In Minnesota there is

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Labor of Love: A Primer in Symphony Orchestra Musician/Management Relations

0 Gerald Elias

You might think musicians would be at the top of a symphony orchestra’s food chain. So did I. When I joined the Boston Symphony violin section in 1975 at the tender age of 22, fresh out of college, bursting with enthusiasm, I was under the naïve misconception that the management of the orchestra worked for

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Some Good Orchestra News (for a change)

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It’s common for the general public, and even musicians to dwell on the negatives when speaking about the current state of orchestra affairs. Of course it’s not all gloom and doom. Here’s a positive. Pittsburgh Symphony settles contract with musicians a year early By Sally Kalson and Andrew Druckenbrod / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette At a time when major

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Jazz Fights For Justice

0 Stephen Danyew

Classical music organizations and musicians are not the only ones facing labor disputes, contract negotiations, and pension issues.  This recent article from the AFM‘s International Musician tells the story of New York City jazz musicians who are trying to convince jazz clubs to pay into pensions for their retirement.  Click here to read the article.

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Beyond Prestige

1 Peter Sachon

In the American system, the arts are funded mostly through indirect subsidies.  Our government’s tax policies toward charitable giving elicit billions of dollars in contributions annually.  The beauty of this system is that it not only allows the citizens to determine which not-for-profits benefit a civil society, but also it does not require the government

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An assumption too far

2 Robert Levine

A friend in the Twin Cities suggested to me that my assumption that Pinchas Zukerman and Edo de Waart had somehow requested and/or received clearance from their personal managers before agreeing to participate in the benefit concerts I wrote about here was not only unwarranted but likely offensive to the two gentlemen in question. After

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Managements not part of the reality-based community

4 Robert Levine

The musicians of the locked-out Minnesota Orchestra and the locked-out Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra got some helpful press today from Minnesota Public Radio: Locked-out musicians at the Minnesota and St. Paul Chamber Orchestras have been warning of a dangerous decline in artistic quality if they accept new contracts sought by management. They say the severe

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Minnesota by the numbers

1 Robert Levine

In an act of remarkable generosity, Drew McManus not only obtained the actual proposal made to the Minnesota Orchestra by management but posted it on his Adaptistration website. I know he’s planning on some analysis, but it was too tempting a document for me to resist reading and writing about any longer. So here are

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Peter Dobrin says it all

0 Robert Levine

This article by Peter Dobrin of the Philadelphia Inquirer is the best reporting on the current crisis yet to appear. Go read the whole thing: …What someone is willing to pay for orchestral musicians in this country has changed radically in recent weeks. Yes, a brief strike last month by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra resulted

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A bad settlement in Atlanta

0 Robert Levine

The musicians of the Atlanta Symphony voted to ratify a tentative settlement that was pretty much what ASO management (or perhaps the Woodruff Center) wanted all along: Symphony Orchestra accepted a new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday, barely averting a postponement of the fall season. The deal will cost players $5.2 million in compensation over two

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That was quick

0 Robert Levine

Maybe not the shortest orchestral strike on record, but likely close to it: They entered the negotiating room in the Chicago Symphony Association’s lawyer’s office at 2 p.m. Monday, and by about 6:45 p.m. a tentative agreement had been reached in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first musicians strike in 21 years. The orchestra announced shortly

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Norman doesn’t get negotiations

0 Robert Levine

It’s not surprising that Norman Lebrecht was right on top of the Chicago Symphony strike. It’s also not surprising that much of what he wrote missed the point or was simply wrong: Chicago is where the present inflationary cycle started when Henry Fogel, the former manager, caved in to a union demand for a $104,000

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Was it worth it?

0 Robert Levine

There is a famous (although possibly apocryphal) story about Richard Nixon’s visit to China. Reportedly, Kissinger told Nixon that Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai was a student of the French Revolution. So Nixon asked him, during their first informal meeting, what he thought the impact of the French Revolution on the course of history had

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Time to end the Detroit strike

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I am no longer working for the musicians’ union so I am just going to call it like I see it… It is time for the musicians of the DSO to make their best deal and go back to work. Sadly, we have seen this so many times – musicians using brute force to try

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Twilight in Syracuse

2 Robert Levine

The Syracuse Symphony is shutting down after musicians refused to accept $1.3 million in concessions: The decision will bring the 50th anniversary season of the orchestra to an unceremonious end. There were more than 20 Syracuse and regional concerts remaining in the 2010-11 season. The orchestra’s 18 full- and part-time staffers and 61 core and

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Another deadline in Detroit

0 Robert Levine

DSO management has apparently set yet another deadline: The musicians claimed management set an April 1 deadline for a deal or the summer season would be lost and the fall season would be jeopardized. They also said management was unwilling to meet at the bargaining table before the Friday deadline. The two sides have not

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Community outreach – ideas for guidelines

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It appears that a big reason that the Detroit Symphony potential settlement fell apart was a dispute over $2 million for community outreach. I am sure there is more to it than that but if there is still a spark of hope embedded in that concept it is worth taking a closer look. The term

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Orchestras and the union movement

1 Robert Levine

Milwaukee is not quite equidistant from Madison and Detroit, but it does sit precisely on the line between them that a crow (or a Boeing) would fly. So it’s fitting that events in Detroit and Madison resonate so loudly with this member of the Milwaukee Symphony – an orchestra in the Rust Belt that’s had

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The worst is yet to come

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If you think that the Detroit Symphony labor dispute has been hard to watch, steel yourselves because the worst is yet to come. If the parties can’t find their way to a settlement in very short order, it will be even harder to watch the orchestra disintegrate. The recent “farewell” posting by the entire DSO

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Don't try this at home

0 Robert Levine

We’re having an interesting couple of weeks here in Wisconsin, as has been reported not only by the usual suspects but by the BBC and Al-Jazeera as well. Here was my favorite sign from my visit to Madison on Saturday: Today appeared a life lesson in the form of some frank talk by our Governor

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WTF was that all about?

2 Robert Levine

That’s also the punch line to a very funny story David Sedaris tells about a slug going door-to-door selling magazine subscriptions, but I digress. Sunday’s story in the Detroit News gave the distinct impression that the DSO management was prepared to: …move forward with a newly assembled group of players that would include only those

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Let The Other Guy Talk First

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Writing projects (read: compositions and arrangements) are always up for negotiation. What I always try to do is let the person hiring me talk first. After we have discussed what is involved, I quickly calculate how much time it will take to complete it. I get a price in my head that I think is […]

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A substitute orchestra in Detroit?

0 Robert Levine

In a front-page article in the Detroit News, Michael H. Hodges is pessimistic about the future of the DSO: …outsiders warn that suspending the season involves a leap into the unknown, one that not only threatens the orchestra’s current hold on audiences and donors, but could put the 2011-2012 season and the orchestra’s entire future

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A suspension bridge to nowhere good

0 Robert Levine

The future of the Detroit Symphony may well ride on the DSO board’s definition of the word “suspend“: The crisis surrounding the Detroit Symphony Orchestra strike hit a new peak Saturday, increasing the possibility that the financially crippled orchestra may not play a single note of music this season. The musicians rejected management’s final contract

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No settlement in Detroit

2 Robert Levine

There’s a management offer on the table, and a management-dictated deadline to accept it or the else, but there’s no agreement between the negotiating teams: Detroit Symphony Orchestra management made what it calls a final offer to musicians tonight, requesting an up-or-down vote on the contract proposal by 5 p.m. Thursday. The move — which

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Detroit inches closer to edge of cliff

0 Robert Levine

This is not the end, but it doesn’t inspire a lot of hope either: The musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra have rejected management’s latest contract offer, setting up a showdown that could lead to the cancellation of the rest of the 2010-11 season by the end of the week. With nearly 50% of the

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American exceptionalism

1 Robert Levine

I’ll admit to finding the Right’s fixation on the concept of American exceptionalism quite disturbing. But there is no other country in the world in which the article below could appear in a union publication. There’s likely no other city in the world in which it could appear either, of course – but, as the

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It's the silly season

0 Robert Levine

It’s nice to know that the management of the Louisville Orchestra think that something about the orchestra is valuable. Too bad it’s the name and not the musicians: In a sign of how far apart the two sides remain, an attorney for Louisville Orchestra Inc. has threatened legal action if its musicians continue to operate

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Have Your Price in Mind

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You should have a price in mind for the particular service that is under discussion. Different types of gigs will have different pay rates that are either set by the musicians’ union or are the going rates of the area. Many jobs pay scale and that’s it. A traveling Broadway show or an opera put […]

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