(UPDATE 3:18pm CT – agreement has been ratified) Details from the proposed, and confidential, master agreement between the Philadelphia Orchestra Association (POA) and their musicians are starting to leak to the surface. One of the items with the greatest impact for fallout is whether or not the POA remains in the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and Employers Pension Fund. According to statements coming from the latter, it doesn’t look like that’s the case.
Several news outlets have reported that pension fund spokespersons have indicated that they intend to move forward with litigation if the POA leaves the fund. According to inside sources, the current proposal not only removes the POA musicians from the fund but it shifts the pension plan from a defined benefit to a defined contribution system.
Consequently, if those reports are accurate and the musicians ratify the agreement, it shouldn’t be long before the pension fund initiates legal action. According to the 10/12/2011 edition of Bloomberg.com, the musicians begin voting on the proposed agreement today, 10/13/2011 although it is unclear if the vote is being conducted in person or musicians will be allowed to vote by mail-in or proxy. If the latter, then the outcome may not be known until the weekend.
Of course, if the musicians choose not to ratify the contract then the issue will go back to a holding pattern. Check back throughout the day as any breaking news regarding the outcome of the vote will be posted as it is made available.
In the end, don’t expect this to be over if the agreement is ratified. In a blog post from 10/12/2011, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Peter Dobrin provides a broader picture by reminding readers that even if the musicians ratify the contract it must be approved by the POA board (which would be all but guaranteed), reviewed and approved by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. (a trickier step), and ruled on by the judge in the Association’s bankruptcy case (more certain).
Dobrin wraps up by stating the final step in the process and what might end up becoming this conflict’s Fort Sumter moment.
“The [POA] must also formally initiate its withdrawal from the fund, which it has not done.”
- UPDATE: The POA released a media statement announcing that the proposed agreement has been ratified by the POA board and musicians. Details of the agreement are bound to be made public soon. In the meantime, start the official countdown clock for how long the pension fund will take before pursuing litigation.
[sws_toggle1 title="POA Media Statement"]
October 13, 2011
Ratification/Approval of New Collective Bargaining between POA and AFM Local 77
Richard B. Worley, Chairman of The Philadelphia Orchestra Association Board of Directors
Allison Vulgamore, President and CEO, The Philadelphia Orchestra Association
The tentative collective bargaining agreement reached on Thursday, October 7, has been approved by the Board of Directors for The Philadelphia Orchestra and ratified by our Musicians. This agreement will be filed for approval in the Bankruptcy Court in the coming day.
This is a critical step toward reaching an important goal within the reorganization process – achieving long-term financial stability for The Philadelphia Orchestra while also maintaining its artistic excellence. Although there is still much to be accomplished in this process, the approval and ratification of this collective bargaining agreement reflects the shared commitment of the Orchestra’s Board of Directors, Musicians and Administration to keep the music playing for our audiences in Philadelphia and around the world.
Our financial challenges have demanded the sacrifice of many at a time when our organization needed cooperative, forward-looking actions that allowed for savings as well as revenue generating opportunities. We recognize and respect what our Musicians have done for our Orchestra and the community in our time of need. Today, we move forward with commitment and even greater determination to raise the necessary funds to ensure that The Philadelphia Orchestra remains the world class ensemble it is today for generations to come.
As we open the season this evening, we look forward to greeting our audiences with the important news that that music will indeed play on. We thank our audiences for their incredible and ongoing support of The Philadelphia Orchestra.