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 Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2019-06-17 16:55

Baltimore Symphony Musicians
June 17, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE



BSO Management Locks out Musicians,
cutting off their Salaries and Health Care

As of 12:01 a.m., June 17, 2019, the management of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra locked out its musicians. Management stated that they are out of cash and will not pay the musicians’ salary. Health insurance will be cut off after June 30. All of this is happening with less than three weeks’ notice to the artists who make the music on the stage and who learned of their impending unemployment through social media rather than directly from BSO Management.

The most appalling aspect of this destructive decision by BSO leadership is that it is completely unnecessary. BSO leadership points to an average $1.6 million annual shortfall in the operations of the orchestra. However, what they don’t mention is that at the same time, the BSO’s endowment trust continues to grow in value. In FY17, total assets grew by $2.4 million.

History has taught the Baltimore Symphony Musicians that concessions don’t solve the problems of chronic mismanagement. The musicians have agreed to seven concessionary contracts since 2003, representing millions of dollars of give-backs to the organization each time management claimed financial distress, as they did in 2004, 2010, and now again in 2019.

The truth is that musician costs have remained flat over the last decade while expenses have spiked at various times, most recently in 2016 when the management overspent irresponsibly during the centenary year, allowing the budget to balloon to $34.6 million.

The musicians are asking for a 2% cost of living raise and for management to observe the minimum contractually required complement of full-time musicians, along with maintaining current work rules. It is essential that we preserve these basic elements if we are to continue to attract and retain the highest caliber musicians. We will continue to fight for these principles. It is essential to preserve the world-class orchestra that has been built over the last 103 years and to sustain it into the next century.

Contact: Co-Chairs Baltimore Symphony Musicians
Greg Mulligan (410) 979-0208 opus95gm@gmail.com
Brian Prechtl (410) 935-7322 bprechtl.1962@yahoo.com

URL: http://www.bsomusicians.org/public_html/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BaltimoreSymphonyMusicians/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bso_musicians
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/baltimoresymphonymusicians/

Subscribe to the Baltimore Symphony Musicians Newsletter

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-17 22:26

That whole situation smells really bad. The "misspending" of funds could have gone to relatives, buddies or even just personally owned businesses by the management. Something has to be done to stop "money guys" from mucking up the arts.


Where is James C. Patrillo when you NEED him?





.................Paul Aviles



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 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: DougR 
Date:   2019-06-18 23:15

Nice response to the BSO "management's" public statement about the lockout from a knowledgeable observer:


https://maskoftheflowerprince.wordpress.com/2019/06/17/weak-messaging-from-the-bso-management/#more-2963



Post Edited (2019-06-18 23:16)

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 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2019-06-19 00:15

"Something has to be done to stop "money guys" from mucking up the arts."

Like van Swieten getting Hayden to put the animal noises into The Creation!



Post Edited (2019-06-19 00:16)

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 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-06-25 06:09

Such a great orchestra that's been around forever. Full of outstanding musicians. Hope it doesn't fold.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2019-06-25 16:33

Bob I doubt it will fold but it will never be the orchestra it was that I played in all those years. Yesterday David Zinman, who conducted the BSO for about 16 years and was really responsible for making it into a great ensemble, came by and walked the picket line with the members. By the way, at the last negotiation meeting management doubled down by cancelling the disability policy and will do the same with their life insurance in a few months. They've already cancelled their healthy insurance the end of this month.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: rmk54 
Date:   2019-06-25 17:15

So where does Marin Alsop stand in all this?

Still collecting her six-figure (seven-figure?) salary, I bet...

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-25 21:54

Let's be a bit kinder to the talents of a great conductor who has earned her salary range. There are all sorts of pro and con arguments to hiring a leader of that calibre. The point is management is running this show like a "leveraged buyout." Now I don't know their scheme but I'm sure profits will be made for them out of this mess and we'll be left without another orchestra.





..............Paul Aviles



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 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2019-06-26 16:32

Alsop has publicly been on the side lines but has shown support for the musicians at her last concerts by standing with them but not vocally. It's been said that she has contacted people behind the scenes in an effort to raise money but no details have been made public. She has not been interviewed to my knowledge to give her opinion. Someone told me she was asked to take a pay cut and refused, Management has not taken a pay cut either. Don't forget, they made a huge deal when she was hired, against the will of most of the orchestra, that she would be the first women of a "major" orchestra though at the time the Buffalo Philharmonc had a women conductor but they were not considered a "major" because the didn't have a 52 week season. So now Baltimore won't be either so where does that leave her and their bragging? She has been the conductor as the BSO has lost audience and financial support. Is she to blame, I don't know but as Truman said, "The buck stops here".

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: DougR 
Date:   2019-06-26 18:24

"Doubling down" is a very kind way to put what the BSO management is doing. They are going after all the musicians' livelihoods proactively, meaning cancelling bedrock protections (disability and life insurance, which SHOULD remain in place during any sort of negotiation, unless you're trying to actively encourage current musicians to leave the orchestra). The naked threat here is management cancelling or curtailing anything they can to instill terror in the musicians.

I think at this point it's a race between the BSO management's cruelty (I'll use the word, you may disagree) on the one hand, and community outrage on the other. The community (the governor, state legislators, and community leaders) need to be mobilized to hold the BSO management to some sort of accountability for the wholesale abandonment of their duty to maintain the orchestra in any qualitatively meaningful form, and the abandonment (and possible double-dealing) around the legislature's recently appropriated $3-million rescue package. Community outrage is what turned the tide in the Minnesota Orchestra lockout, and it can hopefully work here as well.

As to Ms. Alsop, I'm hopeful she'll do right by the musicians. I have seen her conduct exactly twice: once many years ago, when she conducted the Columbia, MD, symphony (essentially a community orchestra) and once recently in NYC when she conducted a short run of West Side Story in Brooklyn (featuring the very finest NYC pit players, many of whom also play in prestigious orchestral settings). I imagine she's feeling a lot of pressure to do ... something.

Here's a newish take on the BSO situation from an informed observer; there is much deep diving to do into the BSO's actual financials to verify management's claims, as this account stresses. Above all, this is no way for third-rate mis-managers to treat concert artists of world-class quality.

https://songofthelarkblog.com/2019/06/18/the-baltimore-symphony-three-strikes-and-youre-out/

Me, I'm off to surf the web to find the BSO's musician-donation page.



Reply To Message
 
 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-06-26 19:02

DougR wrote:

> "Doubling down" is a very kind way to put what the BSO
> management is doing. They are going after all the musicians'
> livelihoods proactively, meaning cancelling bedrock protections
> (disability and life insurance, which SHOULD remain in place
> during any sort of negotiation, unless you're trying to
> actively encourage current musicians to leave the orchestra).
> The naked threat here is management cancelling or curtailing
> anything they can to instill terror in the musicians.
>

It may seem like quibbling over semantics, but I suspect what's actually happening is that management is not making the premium payments for the insurance coverage rather than actively "cancelling" them. Medical insurance premiums are paid monthly. Life insurance may be paid monthly, quarterly or semi-annually. If management doesn't make the payments, the insurance company cancels the policy. The effect, of course, is exactly the same - the musicians lose their life and medical insurance coverage. But it occurs to me that the insurance companies could prevent this by continuing to cover the musicians in the expectation that the policies would restored and unpaid premiums might even be made up once (if) a new contract is agreed to.

Somehow I never hear of insurance companies' being willing to go this extra mile to support workers.

> I think at this point it's a race between the BSO management's
> cruelty (I'll use the word, you may disagree) on the one hand,
> and community outrage on the other. The community (the
> governor, state legislators, and community leaders) need to be
> mobilized to hold the BSO management to some sort of
> accountability for the wholesale abandonment of their duty to
> maintain the orchestra in any qualitatively meaningful form

I've never understood what the orchestra boards in these contract disputes are trying to accomplish. They aren't meant to be profit-generating institutions. The boards' role is, or is supposed to be, to maintain the quality of the orchestra. How destroying it instead fulfills their core purpose has always been beyond me. They're clearly throwing the baby out with the bath water. Why are they on these boards in the first place?

Karl

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 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: Slowoldman 
Date:   2019-06-26 19:43

Karl wrote:

"I've never understood what the orchestra boards in these contract disputes are trying to accomplish."

Admittedly, I don't know what's behind the scenes here. However, my experience in other fields suggests that there's often a hot-shot CEO (or other administrator) involved, trying to justify his/her salary through cost savings in labor or the quality of the "product", and showing how "tough" he/she can be in negotiations, in preparation for a move somewhere else for more money.

Steve

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-26 19:53

I wholeheartedly agree with DougR. The community needs to express its support of the arts (if they intend to have them) and their outrage over mismanagement by the board.


Baltimore isn't just a suburb of D.C., they have the Orioles who play at one of the most striking ballparks in the country, Camden Yards, and the Ravens. Get some of the that money/political pull involved to save the orchestra. There have to to a few people in that group who care about music (at least as much as profits).





...............Paul Aviles



Post Edited (2019-06-26 21:14)

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2019-06-28 17:29

People have to realize that the BSO plays in two halls. They have a "second" home in Montgomery country, the weathest community in our country by millionaires. They go there almost every week and many twice a week. When I was in the orchestra we gave many concessions to allow that because it's a lot of travel time. I'd left my house at 5:15 to catch the bus and get home about midnight. I'd leave at 6:50 for our home concerts and be home befor 11:00. That was supposed to be the BSO savior, a new board there as well and support. Guess what, our management has not made it work, but the orchestra till goes there very often and the concerts are well attended, but not nearly enougn financial support. It's expensive to take the orchestra there, busses, trucks, stage hands, rental, programs etc. Who's paying the price, the BSO members. Managentment is being paid well with all benifits.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2019-06-28 19:51

Some anonymous donors just gave enough money to the BSO to pay for medical and dental insurance for the 76 musicians during the lockout. By the say, the contract when I played there called for 96. I retired 6 years ago.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-06-28 21:03

Ed, what 20 positions were dropped?

Karl

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 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2019-06-29 17:23

Karl, they wern't dropped they just haven't been filled with full time players. Several "acting" players, one year positions and many subs, especially in the strings but a few winds as well.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: Dan Oberlin 2017
Date:   2019-07-02 21:30

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/01/arts/music/baltimore-symphony-orchestra-lockout.html?nytapp=true

Last summer I attended the BSO's Academy (a fantasy camp for adult musicians) and played in a quintet with Schuyler Jackson, the bassoonist mentioned in the article - terrific guy as well as, predictably, an outstanding musician. He was 26 at the time and newly tenured in the orchestra. I told him that he was "living the dream". What a sad turn of events!



Reply To Message
 
 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-07-02 23:59

Hi Ed,

Thanks for responding. I haven't been online much lately, just too dang busy with mouthpiece orders.

I remember Iggie Gennusa saying the BSO was one of the first orchestras in the country to offer full time year round positions. Most of the orchestras were just part time and seasonal jobs. So I'm sure you must remember this as you were with this orchestra for several decades, 6 or more, I can't remember.

Anyway, this is a real shame.

If we look at other countries government sponsored orchesters are doing well. I can't remember which country it is, maybe Denmark, but they have something like 16 Stratovarius violins in this one orchestra. This is not something I pulled out of my hat. It's true. Wish I could remember the orchestra. Maybe the fellow readers know.

Something like this happened to the San Diego Sym about 30 years ago and the orchestra members took over the orchestra. I'm not sure how this orchestra is run now. Maybe the members are still running it. But the orchestra survived. I hope the BSO survives.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




Reply To Message
 
 Re: Baltimore Symphony Lockout.
Author: DougR 
Date:   2019-07-12 22:53

here's an update on the Baltimore situation from one of the most astute commenters on the current rash of orchestral labor disputes (she was exemplary at digging into the Minnesota Orchestra's finances and uncovering the deceptions then-management was practicing on an unknowing public).


https://songofthelarkblog.com/2019/07/12/the-baltimore-symphony-burning-gifts-and-burning-gifs/



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