In late December the management of Eos decided to cease operations and cancel performances scheduled for the 2005 season. This came as much of a shock to Local 802 as it did to many members. Whenever the management of an orchestra makes a decision to cease operating, it’s an important part of the process to discuss and evaluate the reasons leading to that decision.
On the evening of Jan. 12, Eos musicians attended a meeting at Local 802. Union staff began the meeting by laying out a timeline of events with regard to Eos. Later, we offered musicians an opportunity to go over what happened and ask questions. Here’s the chronology of events.
MUSICIANS SEEK UNION — AND 802 RESPONDS
In late March of 2004 the union had been approached by several musicians who were concerned about their job security with Eos. Some of these musicians had performed with Eos since its inception in 1995 but nevertheless were fearful that their jobs with Eos were in jeopardy.
In an effort to secure positions for all the musicians who had dedicated themselves to Eos over a period of years, the union generated a list of musicians who had played a majority of the performances with Eos over the last three-year period.
The Organizing Department contacted all of these musicians to determine their committment to winning a collective bargaining agreement with Eos. Thirty-three musicians signed an open petition authorizing and designating 802 as their representative for the purpose of collective bargaining. This petition was delivered to Eos management.
An initial “get to know you” meeting was set up between 802 and Eos management to explain the process of orchestra committee election, survey the musicians and begin to create the union’s proposals prior to the start of negotiations. Management asked about hiring musicians for the upcoming season. Local 802 explained that as long as Eos remained consistent — offering the same amount of work to the same musicians as they had during the previous three years — it would be fine. This meeting was cordial and was conducted in the spirit of moving the process forward.
During the summer, the orchestra committee was elected, the musicians were surveyed and the proposals were formulated.
MANY AREN’T REHIRED — AND UNION FILES U.L.P.
In late August, 18 musicians began receiving significantly reduced offers of work. Some musicians did not receive any work offer at all. Based on this development, the union filed an unfair labor practice charge against Eos. It was the union’s contention that the reduced or non-offers of work for the season were a result of the group having designated the union as its representative.
On Sept. 15, 2004 a meeting took place where the union asked Eos representatives to explain the reduced and non-offers of work.
They explained that some musicians were overlooked in the past and therefore did not have a valid expectation of work. Others had turned down some work in the past so Eos wanted to offer the work to those who had substituted for them. Yet other musicians, they claimed, had performance issues.
The union and committee told the Eos representatives that we believed their reasons to be inconsistent, irrational and unacceptable.
We asked them to reconsider and revise their offers of work to the Eos musicians. While some new offers of work were made to some Eos musicians, the revised offers remained in our view inconsistent and arbitrary.
ALL CARDS ON TABLE — AND EOS FOLDS
On Oct. 1, 2004 a plenary session took place with both sides present. In addition, community leaders attended, offering their assistance if needed.
Once again, the session was cordial and a candid discussion took place with regard to the union’s willingness to negotiate an artistic dismissal procedure and other elements that would give management some of the flexibility they desired.
But the one non-negotiable item for the union was the initial list of musicians who had dedicated themselves to the job over the past three years.
A meeting scheduled for Dec. 15 was canceled by Eos management and on Dec. 17 the union was notified that Eos was canceling the 2005 season and terminating operations.
The issue of job security is central to the core mission of any union. We are disappointed that Eos decided to cease operations. Eos has neither privately nor publically claimed its decision to do so, however, was a result of its talks with 802.
The union is following the activities of the founder of Eos to make sure that there are no unfair labor practices, and no resumption of activities under a different name with different musicians — or any other attempts to circumvent any legal obligations. We will keep you posted.