Labor negotiations take a turn at Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra

Posted on: March 26, 2009

In Tuesday’s (3/24) 77 Square, Madison, Wisconsin’s alternative weekly, Lindsay Christians reports, “Following more than a year of negotiations and a strike that’s lasted nearly six months, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra has issued musicians a ‘last, best and final offer.’ Doug Gerhart, executive director of the orchestra, said management is trying to be ‘as fair and reasonable as possible’ with the latest contract. Musicians disagree, saying they’re being punished with a lesser contract for exercising their right to strike. … The newest contract includes fewer guaranteed performances (or ‘services,’ which include rehearsals)—58, down from 75 last season. (String players were guaranteed 75 services, brass and woodwinds 70, and 61 for percussion.) The WCO is affected by outside companies: Madison Ballet eliminated live music for performances of The Nutcracker in December, which cuts eight services from the total. Management also cites ‘what appears to be a decrease in public demand for performances by artistic organizations.’ ” Christians does not mention a timeline for when musicians are to vote on the new contract, but notes that many musicians feel they shouldn’t have to sign without the orchestra disclosing finances.
Posted March 26, 2009