Louisville Orchestra placed on national union’s “unfair list”

Posted on: August 23, 2011

In Tuesday’s (8/23) Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), Elizabeth Kramer reports, “The American Federation of Musicians has placed the Louisville Orchestra on its ‘unfair list’—meaning that any union member who plays for it without a contract could be fined. The move comes a week after the orchestra emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy without a collective bargaining agreement with its musicians—all of whom are members of the New York-based union—and just weeks before the scheduled season-opening performance on Sept. 10. … The federation said Monday it was acting in response to the orchestra’s chief executive, Robert Birman, saying during an Aug. 15 U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing that, while the orchestra would continue working toward a contract with its musicians, it could also pursue agreements with nonunion musicians or sidestep the union to make agreements with member musicians. … Birman and other organization leaders have said that the city can only afford an orchestra with an operating budget of about $5 million, which they say would require a reduction in what has been a 71-member orchestra. National union president Ray Hair said in a phone interview that management’s proposal to reduce the orchestra’s size would be a mistake and unfair to the musicians, who he said were being asked ‘to compensate for poor management.’ ”

Posted August 23, 2011