Court rules Louisville Orchestra musicians “on strike” since June

Posted on: January 9, 2012

In Saturday’s (1/7) Courier-Journal (Louisville), Elizabeth Kramer writes, “Any Louisville Orchestra musician who received unemployment benefits since June 26 must repay the money, following a ruling by the state’s Office of Employment and Training that the musicians were not locked out but were actually on strike. Fifty-five orchestra musicians had filed for unemployment benefits but the orchestra filed a claim with the state office last June contending that the musicians were refusing to work without a contract, which constituted a strike. Orchestra officials testified before a referee from the office last fall. According to the ruling, the musicians’ unemployment benefits will now cease. The state employment office mailed copies of the ruling to the 55 musicians who had applied for benefits, to orchestra officials and to their representatives Thursday. Several confirmed on Friday that they received it, including orchestra CEO Robert Birman … Birman said he doesn’t ‘view this as a meaningful economic issue for the Louisville Orchestra,’ but he wants the orchestra to conduct its businesses in accordance with Kentucky law. In a written response to an inquiry about the ruling, the players’ negotiating committee chair, Kim Tichenor, wrote, ‘We are, of course, disappointed by the news and disagree with the referee’s initial decision to rescind the award of unemployment benefits.’ … Chris Sanders, a labor attorney representing the musicians, said he plans to file an appeal on behalf of the musicians with the Unemployment Insurance Commission by Jan. 20.”

Posted January 9, 2012