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January 11, 2016IM -
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra (HSO) board has threatened that the symphony could shut down at the end of January unless its musicians make significant concessions. Musicians and management have spent the past year in negotiations for a new contract.
In November, there was a step forward in the labor dispute. In response to an unfair labor practice complaint filed by Local 400 (Hartford, CT) on behalf of Hartford Symphony Orchestra musicians, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) sided with the musicians and called upon management to issue contracts for the current season.
Yet, the two sides are still at odds over a long-term agreement. HSO management has sought to cut wages by 30% and reduce the number of guaranteed services per season. In response, musicians are asking that management share in the sacrifice, a request that has been steadfastly refused.
Backed by the analysis of industry expert Tom Morris, the musicians maintain that their contract is not responsible for the organization’s financial difficulties. They have revealed that the orchestra’s management structure, under which one person serves as CEO of both HSO and the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, causes a conflict of interest. The musicians have also emphasized HSO’s shortcomings in fundraising, particularly that the board and staff failed to launch a $10 million endowment campaign that was promised in 2007.
“The inherent conflicts of interest in the current shared CEO arrangement and the underperforming stewardship is becoming increasingly clear,” says Michael Pollard, a member of the negotiating committee and a member of Local 400. “Continuing this relationship could prove fatal to the HSO.”