Committee Members Take a Strategic Look at Upcoming Freelance Orchestra Negotiations

Volume CI, No. 6June, 2001

Committee members from the 12 freelance orchestras that will soon begin negotiating new contracts took part in a strategic planning seminar led by Ken Margolies, Director of Organizing Programs at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, on April 23. Also taking part were Financial Vice-President Hafemeister, Assistant Director David Lennon, who supervises the Concert Department, and 802 legal counsel Leonard Leibowitz.

The seminar, entitled “A Strategic Look at the Freelance Orchestra Negotiations,” was presented by 802’s Education Department, which Hafemeister heads. Margolies had developed the full-day program over a period of several months, in consultation with a committee that included four orchestra members

The program emphasized the importance of preparation and unity among the musicians, whose work is covered by 12 separate contracts. Participants discussed factors that affect the outcome of bargaining, thinking like management, doing a power analysis, and building a contract campaign. During the afternoon session, Leibowitz outlined how bargaining works, how the committee functions in the context of negotiations as well as in its role as representative for the bargaining unit, and how to build and maintain unity and strength throughout the process.

The theme of unity is important because, while each orchestra has its own agreement, many of the terms and conditions under which the orchestras work are the same – and must remain the same to maintain an industry-wide level playing field. The seminar emphasized the issues that are common to all 12 orchestras, and helped to reinforce committee members’ commitment to the whole.

The program also helped to focus participants on the preparations needed to launch the negotiations. All 12 agreements expire in September. Lennon presented a preliminary set of proposals, based on the results of an orchestra questionnaire that he and the committees had reviewed and analyzed. In a follow-up meeting on May 10, the committees met to finalize the proposals. The union expects to be fully prepared to open negotiations in coming weeks.