Recommended Reading: Strikes and Labor Negotiations
The last few weeks have been busy and tumultuous in the orchestral world- three different full-time, professional orchestras have gone on strike, although one strike has already resolved. In addition, the management from both the Fort Worth and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras have cancelled their immediate upcoming concerts for the next few weeks, which unfortunately means that the strike may be longer than expected. As a player in a professional orchestra, I've been trying to read up on the issues and stay informed on the labor negotiations with these other ensembles, not only because I have friends in these other orchestras, but because many orchestras face challenging labor negotiations and contentious agreements. It may not seem like a typical health-related post to share, but health coverage and benefits are often critical issues in collective bargaining, and it can be hard to keep up with all of the news with each strike and agreement.
Here are some of the articles and blogs that I've found most helpful in illuminating the issues:
To start with, here is a great blog on "What Does it take to be a classical musician?" which depicts the training, rigors, and preparation of this particular vocation and why it should be valued.
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra
Initially, the Fort Worth Star Telegram published an article on the strike with numerous biased opinions and inaccuracies about the musician salaries. Here is that initial article: http://www.star-telegram.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article100625872.html
In response, here is a blog noting the inaccuracies, misinformed opinions, and issues in the media coverage of the strike. https://maskoftheflowerprince.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/what-went-wrong-with-the-medias-discussion-of-the-fwso-strike/ (Side note: who is this author? Scott Chamberlain is a resident of Minnesota and wrote a series of insightful blogs about the MN labor issues a few years ago. As a musician, I'm impressed with his ability to be articulate and direct in his writing.)
As a follow up article, the FW Star Telegram published a very distressing article, "FW Symphony Orchestra, RIP." Here's that: http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/editorials/article101444512.html
There is an additional rebuttal of note on this "RIP" article, which points to some of the more distressing issues in the strike and the coverage/portrayal of the issues. https://maskoftheflowerprince.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/the-star-telegram-strikes-again/
Here are some of the more positive letters from the readers in response to the FWSO strike, which were again published in the Star Telegram. http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article102096632.html
Here is another excellent blog on some of the internal issues of the FWSO management and communication: https://maskoftheflowerprince.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/slime-and-slander-the-fwso-email/
Most importantly, here is the statement from the musicians on the previous articles published by the FW Star Telegram. It has not been published by the paper, although I believe it has been sent to them for publication. http://www.fwsomusicians.com/news/read-the-rebuttal-the-star-telegram-isnt-publishing
The FWSO musicians are still picketing their performance hall and are putting on concerts throughout the community. Their concert season has been canceled through November. To follow them on Facebook, see @fwsomusicians, and see their website, www.fwsomusicians.com
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra- To preface, I know considerably less about the PSO situation, but have tried to share some of the blogs and publications that have been published in the last week.
Here's the initial statement from the PSO musicians on the strike, as published last Friday: http://slippedisc.com/2016/09/breaking-pittsburgh-symphony-goes-on-strike/
Here's the statement from PSO management on the strike: http://blogs.pittsburghsymphony.org/2016/09/pittsburgh-symphony-orchestra-musicians-reject-proposal-from-psi-management-and-initiate-work-stoppage/
Here's another perspective from the musicians breaking down the numbers, gross revenue, and issues between the management and musicians: http://realpsoupdate.com/the-real-facts-from-the-psis-faq/
Coverage in the NY Times Last week: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/01/arts/music/pittsburgh-symphony-orchestra-musicians-strike.html?rref=collection%2Fspotlightcollection%2Fclassical-music-reviews&_r=1
Coverage from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/music/2016/09/30/PSO-musicians-go-on-strike/stories/201609300253
The PSO Musicians are currently picketing as well as putting on concerts in the community. To follow them on Facebook, go to @PSOMusicians, and http://musiciansofthepso.org.
Sending support to all of these musicians and hope for a resolution!