Just because the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between an orchestra and its musicians expires doesn’t mean the organization necessarily comes to a screeching halt. Although it certainly adds an additional layer of pressure to negotiations, in most cases, the employer continues paying wages and benefits under the terms of the expired agreement until a new agreement is ratified or imposed. And that’s exactly how the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) describes the process: The parties’ obligations do not end when the contract expires. They must bargain in good faith for a successor […]
Series Archives: Negotiations
On 10/3/15, I had the pleasure to return as a guest on Doing What Works with Maureen Anderson, a weekly radio talk show that originates from WZFG AM 1100 and runs on Sundays from 10 to midnight Central on the Radio America network, to talk about the unique unionized environment within the orchestra field. If you’ve ever been interested in a solid overview of how that structure has evolved, how unionized musicians interact with their employer, dispute resolution, the challenges related to intra-musician interactions and the duty of fair representation, and some […]
Whenever labor disputes reach a breaking point, one of the most commonly misunderstood concepts is the difference between a strike and a lockout. The distinction is the first, crucial step in understanding the nature of the dispute. The Basics In the realm of labor law, strikes and lockouts are types of work stoppages. Strikes are initiated by the employees and is when the workers cease work during a labor dispute. Lockouts are initiated by the employer and is a denial of employment during a labor dispute. When applied to orchestra labor disputes, […]
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 […]