The first step in understanding how your local orchestra functions as an organization is to understand the basic principles behind the document that deals with nearly every facet of its operations: the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Every major orchestra in America, regardless of union status, has some form of a contract that exists as a result of collective bargaining. This contract governs all issues related to musician compensation, benefits, work conditions, and the dismissal process.
Next in this series of articles, we’ll take a deeper look into “who” does “what” during the process. This installment of the “Negotiation Process” series will examine the answers to a common misconception about who does what during contract negotiations. Mary Lo from Washington wrote to ask, “Why do the musicians care about all of this if they just have a lawyer doing their negotiating anyway?” Mary has a typical idea about how negotiations operate; with a couple of lawyers sitting in a room hammering out details based on what their clients […]
After posting the initial articles from for this series on the Negotiation Process, many Adaptistration readers wrote in wondering why orchestra musicians are part of an organized labor union. Sam from Golden, Colorado wrote in to ask: “I don’t really think of musicians like auto workers, why do they even have a union?” Not long ago, I asked a very similar question to, Len Leibowitz a veteran labor lawyer that has negotiated hundreds of symphony, opera and ballet musicians collective bargaining agreements. Len also serves as the official counsel for ICSOM. Len […]
The manner in which contract negotiations have developed over the past 50 years has been fast and furious. Even the term “traditional bargaining” is in itself, not very accurate since it’s only been used for the past 40 years or so. Before then, musicians didn’t even have a voice in how their contracts were negotiated; it was all handled between the AFM local union officers and the orchestra managers. By and large, those union officers saw the orchestra musicians as the highest paying job in town and they should be satisfied with […]