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Tags: Negotiations

Who Won the Met Negotiations?

0 Robert Levine

According to Norman Lebrecht and Terry Teachout, the unions did: (Lebrecht) [Gelb]demanded 16-17% cuts from the orchestra and chorus and settled for 3.5 percent now, 3.5 percent later. No huge pain for the musicians, but huge gain. They have won the right to be party to major spending decisions, limiting Gelb’s powers as manager and

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Why you don’t want your orchestra’s name to start with “M”

0 Robert Levine

First Minnesota, then Milwaukee, and now … Memphis: Following in the tumultuous footsteps of its Nashville counterpart, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra announced that it is facing a financial crisis that will require “aggressive steps” to complete the current season. “The Memphis Symphony Orchestra celebrates decades of accomplishments thanks to a committed group of patrons, musicians

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Our conspiratorial industry

15 Robert Levine

One of the more intriguing aspects to the psychology of our industry is a general propensity to conspiratorial thinking. It’s not hard to find amongst musicians; the widespread belief that the League of American Orchestras A National Service Organization is behind all our woes is the best-known example, but conspiracy theories fester within orchestras as

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Why not try negotiating? (with update)

1 Robert Levine

It’s clear that crunch time is coming on the Northern Front (aka the Minnesota orchestra labor “negotiations”). The board has said that they’re willing to indefinitely delay the unveiling of their shiny new $50 million toy lobby, to see the prospect of ever going back to Carnegie Hall evaporate, and to watch Vänskä walk. The

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Mediation in Minnesota

0 Robert Levine

The Minnesota Orchestra lock-out – the longest second-longest formal lock-out in our industry’s history – may have entered a new phase, according to Graydon Royce of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: The Minnesota Orchestra’s management and musicians — now in the 11th month of a bitter labor lockout — are quietly talking again behind the scenes.

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When Vampire Squid meets orchestra

2 Robert Levine

One of the best metaphors in recent years was coined by Matt Taibbi, who wrote one of the great articles on the financial crisis of 2008: The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face

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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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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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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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The Musician's Union: A Contrarian Point of View–Sort of

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Here’s a blog posted on March 15, 2011 by Columbus Symphony bassoonist, Betsy Sturdevant on her blog.  In it she makes some interesting observations about unions in general, and the Musician’s Union in particular.  Good food for thought.  What do you think? Musician labor unions: the pros and the cons Labor unions formed in the

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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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More details on the Detroit negotiations

0 Robert Levine

The AFM put out a press release yesterday (February 20) which contained some interesting details on the most recent negotiations: Although Senator Carl Levin and Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert had stepped in last week to help broker an agreement, DSO management did not show up at face-to-face meetings with the arbitrators until the third

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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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And they could sell tickets to staff meetings!

0 Robert Levine

Labor law bars managements from implementing the governance solution outlined by Bertold Brecht: After the uprising of the 17th June The Secretary of the Writers Union Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee Stating that the people Had forfeited the confidence of the government And could win it back only By redoubled efforts. Would it not

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Detroit Update 1/23/2011

0 Robert Levine

According to the Detroit Free Press, there were negotiations today: The musicians and management of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra returned to the bargaining table this afternoon to try to settle the contentious strike that enters its 17th week on Monday. DSO board members received an e-mail from management today saying that talks had resumed, said

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A press blackout with a very short lifespan

1 Robert Levine

Detroit Symphony management and musicians met all day Thursday under a press blackout: The status of contract talks between the musicians and management of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra remained unclear early this afternoon in the midst of a news blackout by both sides in the dispute. The parties met all day Thursday in an effort

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The moralistic approach to orchestra scheduling

2 Robert Levine

Interlochen Public Radio did a piece yesterday on the DSO strike; in particular the service conversion proposals that management has put on the table. The whole thing is worth reading. But I was particularly struck by comments made by Joseph Horowitz: …there are those in the industry who argue this discussion is way overdue. Joe

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Social media and musician activism

0 Robert Levine

This story didn’t show up on the usual arts blogging sites, but it might well have been the most important news for our field in a while: In what labor officials and lawyers view as a ground-breaking case involving workers and social media, the National Labor Relations Board has accused a company of illegally firing

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Wassup in Detroit?

1 Robert Levine

The Detroit Symphony went on strike a little over four weeks ago, although negotiations broke down several weeks before that. That puts the strike clock at around 11:45PM, by normal standards – negotiations seem to begin to get serious, during an orchestra strike, after about six weeks. Why is that? Why not sooner? I think

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Daddy, what's an 8(d) notice?

1 Robert Levine

The short answer is that it’s something that’s about to bite the Detroit Symphony management very hard. The long answer follows after the jump.

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The Richardson Symphony and Buddy Rich–What's the Connection

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Some of you may be following the plight of the Richardson (Texas) Symphony Orchestra and its musicians.  They’re embroiled in a bitter dispute that has led to the RSO being placed on the International Unfair List of the American Federation of Musicians. What this means is that as long as the orchestra is on the

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Something sure is broken in Honolulu

0 Robert Levine

I don’t know that this has ever happened in an orchestra bankruptcy before: U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Faris yesterday denied the Honolulu Symphony Society’s request to extend the period in which it alone could submit a plan for its reorganization. The decision allows the symphony’s musicians and other parties to submit competing plans for the

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Healthcare reform and orchestras

1 Robert Levine

There doesn’t seem to have been anything in the press or blogosphere about the effect of healthcare reform (as of last night, and pending the signature of the President, the law of the land) on orchestras. One would think that the effect of HCR on 0.00002% of the national economy would be bigger news. No

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Reading the tea leaves in Detroit

0 Robert Levine

Breaking news on the Detroit Symphony today: Talks to renegotiate the Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians contract have ended without a deal, a surprise since a spokesperson for the musicians earlier said that they were “expecting and hoping” to be part of the solution to the DSO’s budget crisis. “The DSO management team and orchestra are

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The Cleveland Orchestra strike: underlying issues

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A shared vision On February 2, 2005, Gary Hanson (ED/TCO) paid a visit to the storied offices of the AFM at 1501 Broadway in the heart of NY’s theater district. TCO was in town, set to play Carnegie Hall that evening. Hanson was clearly asking the AFM for forgiveness rather than permission – the meeting

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Seattle settles

0 Robert Levine

Seattle Symphony management and musicians have reached a tentative agreement: The 23-month, three-season contract — which could be extended for an additional eight months — would immediately cut musicians’ pay by 5 percent until the end of this season, with the current pay scale resuming in 2011. Musicians also would pay a greater share of

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Cleveland strike is over

0 Robert Levine

It seemed to me that this might be a short strike; in the end, it came as close as a strike could be to not being a strike at all. The only work canceled was a concert in Bloomington IN, which will likely be re-scheduled. What is reported about the settlement makes it sound like

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More on Cleveland

0 Robert Levine

The Cleveland strike was still ongoing as of late Monday night, at least according to Google News. The New York Times had a long article on the subject by Daniel Wakin, which seemed generally balanced and well-informed. It did include this tidbit, though: Many of the nation’s top orchestras have reduced staff positions and administrative

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Cleveland on strike

0 Robert Levine

At least for Monday: Oboist Jeffrey Rathbun says he and the other musicians are “sorely disappointed” management hasn’t acknowledged sacrifices they’ve made in their last two contracts or their offer to continue to work for the next contract year with no increase in salary or benefits. The musicians’ contract expired last summer. The musicians say

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The model's not broken

0 Robert Levine

The symphonoblogosphere has been abuzz with stories about the labor troubles in Seattle and Cleveland, and these are indeed big stories. But there are other negotiations hanging fire as well. Unless I missed something, the Met management’s proposal to cut salaries by 10% has still not been resolved, while Detroit’s been having an extremely difficult

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