On November 9, Fort Wayne Philharmonic management rejected an offer by musicians—members of Local 58 (Fort Wayne, IN)—to accept substantial cuts to compensation during the 2020-21 season and return to work performing COVID-safe live and streamed concerts. The musicians’ proposal would have allowed the Philharmonic to rescind its unlawful furlough of musicians and to restore world-class professional symphonic music to the Fort Wayne community. Instead, the Philharmonic has now cancelled its entire 2020-21 symphonic concert season.
Throughout the pandemic, Philharmonic management has displayed a shocking refusal to bargain in good faith with musician representatives and a persistent failure to involve musicians in critical decision-making. In August, the parties neared agreement on a deal that would have avoided the furloughs and allowed performances to proceed. Not satisfied with these near-term concessions, including 30% reductions in pay, Phil management insisted on gutting the CBA for the long term. The Philharmonic’s current proposal would cut the number of contract musicians from 63 to 15, enact permanent cuts in wages, retirement security, and health care; and eliminate industry standard protections against arbitrary firings of musicians. Musicians again were blindsided by management’s November 4 announcement canceling the remainder of the 2020-21 season.
The Philharmonic’s unlawful furlough is the subject of an unfair labor practice charge filed on October 5 and currently under investigation by Region 25 of the National Labor Relations Board. On November 10, musicians filed a second charge alleging the Phil’s most recent bargaining proposal constitutes regressive bargaining in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. On November 13, the Philharmonic was placed on the AFM’s International Unfair List.