An end to the Jacksonville lockout?

The NBC affiliate in Jacksonville reports that negotiations between Jacksonville Symphony musicians and management have been restarted today:

JACKSONVILLE, FL — It is back to the negotiating table for the
management of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and the musicians.
They will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning at the Times-Union Center to
try and work out a contract agreement.

The players have been
locked out since November 12th. Since then, they have not gotten paid
and as of January 1st, they no longer have health insurance. Kevin
Casseday, Orchestra Committee Chair and Spokesperson, says it’s been
tough on the players. He told First Coast News, "Some people have been
playing for 40 years and they have not been able to perform." He also
says they have been unable to get out in the community and do things
they like to do. For example, they have been unable to go to schools
and talk with students.

The Players’ Association wants more
money and better benefits for the musicians. Casseday says when both
sides were at the table a month ago, they were there for 15 hours and
did not come up with a contract agreement. He says he’s optimistic
about today’s meeting.

The players have held several benefit
concerts over the past 8 weeks to stay afloat. Casseday says the lock
out has been costly. He estimates the City of Jacksonville has lost $4
million in money generated by the Orchestra. He says the players have
lost $8,000 – $12,000 per person.

Both sides want to come up with a settlement.  Casseday says he’s "hoping for something everyone can live with."

Much like our 1993-94 dispute, the fundamental problem here seems to be that management has chosen to "negotiate" in the style of Lemuel Boulware, the legendary labor relations head for GE after WW II. The strategy become known as Boulwarism and, in essence, involved the refusal to move from a pre-set final offer. In the words of the Times:

…the company listened closely to union demands, examined the wages and
working conditions of competitors, conducted extensive research on all
issues and then put forward a "fair, firm offer," with nothing held
back for future concessions.

…except, of course, that the Jacksonville board seems to have neglected the listening, examination, and research parts.

It’s hard to overstate just how ugly Jacksonville has become. Not only was the orchestra locked out, a tactic that virtually no orchestra management has dared to use for decades, but their intention seems to be to break the musicians’ ability to bargain.

Many orchestras (including mine) have sent contributions to the Jacksonville musicians in order to help them to hold out for a real negotiated settlement. If your orchestra hasn’t, it should. Think of it as an investment in not getting locked out yourself the next time your management decides to do all the negotiating itself.

Drew McManus at Adaptistration has done a good job covering this story; it’s worth a look.


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