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Home » Orchestra News » In Union: Musicians Ratify CBA with Boise Philharmonic

In Union: Musicians Ratify CBA with Boise Philharmonic


By Lindsay Bohl, Vice President, and Michael Maier, Officer at Large, of Local 423 (Boise, ID)

Last month, in January 2020, the members of Local 423 (Boise, ID)—the AFM’s newest local—ratified our hard-earned first Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Boise Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO). This success came only 15 months after we first started our organizing effort. Within that time, we ran an organizing campaign, had a successful vote to come together in union, were recognized by the Boise Philharmonic, started negotiating our first CBA, joined with area musicians to form our own local, and created and voted on our local’s bylaws.

When our organizing work culminated last spring with our landslide vote to unionize, we delivered the results to the BPO management. They had to decide to recognize us officially before we could proceed to negotiating a new contract. While the management deliberated recognition, we ran a successful media campaign using social media, local radio interviews, and newspaper articles. After two intense weeks of the media campaign and many meetings between musicians and the BPO board, management agreed to meet for contract negotiations with the orchestra committee, which elected to have an AFM negotiator as part of the process. The BPO management agreeing to negotiate a CBA meant we had been officially recognized and could begin bargaining our first contract.

Once the orchestra gained recognition and could begin negotiations, it was an exhaustive undertaking because the old (non-binding) “master agreement” had to be reworked almost entirely to get to an acceptable contract. In past contract negotiations, prior to joining the AFM, we had no negotiator or legal team helping us. We had a confusing “master agreement” that was not a legally binding contract. There was also a history of broken promises by management for which we had no way to hold them accountable. This time, however, we had the help of both AFM negotiator Todd Jelen and special counsel/SSD director Rochelle Skolnick every step of the way.

Negotiations continued for seven months. In addition to more clarity in the language of the contract, the new three-year CBA will include significant gains for musicians. Some of the highlights are: substantial raises across the board for core and per-service musicians in each year of the contract, more equity in the per-service rates among the sections of the orchestra, a raise for the non-core principal players (principal bass, principal timpani, principal percussion, harp) to be on par with the core principal rate, travel pay for out of town musicians (for the first time ever!), and a grievance and arbitration procedure. And, most importantly, our contract is now a legally binding document.

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