Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
Hoorah they did it! After four months of negotiations between the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and the company, a new contract has been aSF greed upon. It has been a tough year for union negotiations, exemplified by the Met’s posturing and current situation with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. At least the San Francisco musicians and company were able to make out fairly well from the agreement: the musicians will be getting a 3% raise while the company saves hundreds of thousands on health care changes. Additionally, the new agreement allows for additional San Francisco Opera projects in a smaller space by the main performance venue.
While I am not instigating the topic of union negotiations in my personal life (as riveting as that would be), the subject has somehow come up repeatedly in a few of my socials circles. It is interesting to hear different takes on the negotiations, especially since I have begun to notice a trend amongst my cohorts. I am noticing people are inclined to play “the blame game,” blaming one side of the negotiation for taking too long. For example, my sister and her husband (both musicians in the Air Force Band) think that these “opera managers need to get their shit together.” They didn’t understand why the Atlanta Symphony managers were “being difficult” and not agreeing to the musician’s requests. Conversely, one of my younger-gal-pal-stage-manager-friends asked my why the unions couldn’t “just take a pay cut to help the company out?”
All I have to say is, there are two sides of every coin. Like we experienced in Andrew’s “chairman and the board game” yesterday, varying motives require conversation and that conversation can take a while. It is the nature of the beast. Sometimes everyone agrees on the decision right away and it doesn’t take a bunch of time and sometimes you are not so lucky. The point is, there are needs that need to be met and they company and unions are trying to find a way to work. There is no right side or wrong side!