Just in: Atlanta musicians say bosses have walked out of mediation talks

A few hours ago, representatives of the Woodruff Arts Center walked away from federally mediated talks with the locked-out musicians, with no indication whether they planned to return. The talks appear to be deadlocked. The WAC refuse to agree a minimum number of musicians in the orchestra.

The Atlanta Symphony is now in deep-freeze.

We have another Minnesota in the making, perhaps without the same level of public engagement.

Here’s the musician’s statement:

atlanta musicians

 

Last night just before 11:00 PM, the Woodruff Arts Center representatives for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (WAC/ASO) walked away from the table after three days and almost 40 hours of talks ably mediated by Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Commissioner Rich Giacolone, leaving the musicians at the Buckhead venue the FMCS arranged. Although some significant progress was made in health care — and further time together may well have resulted in a complete agreement — the WAC leadership continued steadfastly to refuse to support the need of a world-class Orchestra for a minimum fixed number of musicians.  While the orchestra has been reduced by departures to only 77 Musicians, despite the required contractual complement of 88, the WAC refuses even to commit to 77 Musicians.

The ASOPA Committee volunteered to assist in health care cost savings by making a radical shift to a different type of plan that will save the WAC/ASO at least 25% — over a quarter of a million dollars — annually over the previous plan, which was canceled by WAC/ASO management last month three weeks after it locked out its musicians on September 7. The Musicians also proposed an annual compensation package which, in the final year of the proposed agreement (2018), would have the musicians earning $1,043 less per year than the compensation they earned during the 2011-12 season. 

The ASOPA Committee has worked tirelessly — and will continue to do so — with no other intent than to achieve a fair agreement that protects the Orchestra’s stature and allows it to return to making music on the stage where it belongs. The Musicians are available to meet and are certain that an agreement is entirely possible that will end the heinous lockout to which the musicians have been subjected. “We deeply appreciate the Orchestra’s Board members and other supporters who are working to raise funds and who understand and appreciate the fight to maintain the artistic quality that has made the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra one of the world’s great symphony orchestras, and Atlanta’s cultural flagship,” stated ASOPA President Paul Murphy.

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  • AnnN says:

    The public might be more engaged if the media covered the situation. In the past couple of months, only a few television reports, and the main newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has limited coverage to stray blog posts that aren’t investigative.

    • Sarah says:

      Here in MN the publisher of the StarTribune was/is on the MN Orchestra Board. One hard-hitting investigative article early on and journalism was muzzled for the next year.

  • Bantryb says:

    Since when is ANYONE on the WAC Governing Board qualified to determine the size of an orchestra? Where is their training? Where is their experience? Where have they conducted?

    Doug Hertz can’t even be bothered to attend ASO concerts. He doesn’t know or understand why the size of an orchestra makes a difference.

    NO major orchestra in the country has its size determined by its board, especially not a board so far removed from the actual production of music as the WAC Governing Board is.

    Fellow ASO lovers, the major news outlets – the #1 news station and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in Atlanta are controlled by the Cox family. Anne Cox Chambers is a Life Trustee of WAC. They are controlling the media coverage in Atlanta. It is up to social media to spread the word of this travesty and to demand its end.

  • James Forrest says:

    It becomes obvious that Woodruff Center Management did not act in good faith when agreeing to mediation, and is not acting in good faith now. The rumors of financial mismanagement are legion. Is there no governmental nor judicial agency that can step in?

  • Amy says:

    Well, they’ll have so much to be thankful for this holiday season…that is, Virginia Hepner and Doug Hertz and the rest of the Woodruff Arts Center board of directors:
    They’re not musicians.
    Small-minded bullies, sure, but at least they’re not musicians.

  • DJ WeiBei says:

    I agree with ANNN. They need to run this video: http://youtu.be/Ir_tOV7WhC0 to create public awareness and then do some investigative journalism and save the culture in Atlanta!

  • Bill "BC" Carty says:

    At the rate the WAC is going, it looks like they are not gonna be happy until the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is composed of a washboard player, a guy playing a string attached to a washtub and broom handle, and a harmonica player.

  • Janet Rau says:

    It is beyond belief that a group of musicians as talented as this one(27 grammys and a new nomination for their latest work) is being treated with such a lack of respect by a board of directors.

    WAC Board members – please stop and read your mission statement.

    • Amy says:

      Ah, Janet, there’s the rub. If you’re part of the WAC, why not just re-write the mission statement and remove references to the orchestra, and its stewardship? SOOO much easier.

  • MGB says:

    Amy, I thought the WAC had already done something like this with their Articles of Incorporation… in 2011—according to this letter:
    http://asocmember.blogspot.com/2014/10/an-open-letter-to-themembers-of-aso.html

  • Rooter says:

    The Musicians Union is Your (our) Best Friend Now.

  • T. says:

    The Musician’s Union is your (our) best friend now.

  • Rolf Erdahl says:

    More credit should be given to the level of public engagement that has already been shown in Atlanta: Statements by conductors Spanno and Runnicles; blog posts by several locals, notably including ASO bassist Michael Kurth at trudgemusic.wordpress.com; their own Save Our Symphony Atlanta organization, etc. If anything,Atlanta public engagement has made itself visible and effective earlier in the lockout than was the case here in MN. The Atlanta public and musicians may have benefited from our example and from support from our musicians, community, community support groups, and bloggers, but they have plenty of their own resources, information, and backbone at their disposal. If the WACkos at Woodruff think they can put one over on the local Atlanta public and the world-wide supporters of that venerable orchestra, they have a well-deserved rude awakening coming. Their destruction and deceit will not go unnoticed, be tolerated, or allowed to succeed in the end.

  • Rolf Erdahl says:

    [note – this corrects some typos from my earlier post – content unchanged. RE]

    More credit should be given to the level of public engagement that has already been shown in Atlanta: statements by conductors Spano and Runnicles; blog posts by several locals, notably including ASO bassist Michael Kurth at trudgemusic.wordpress.com; their own Save Our Symphony Atlanta organization; etc. If anything, Atlanta public engagement has made itself visible and effective earlier in the lockout than was the case here in Minnesota. The Atlanta public and musicians may have benefited from our example and from support from our musicians, community, community support groups, and bloggers, but they have plenty of their own resources, information, and backbone at their disposal. If the WACkos at Woodruff think they can put one over on the local Atlanta public and the world-wide supporters of that venerable orchestra, they have a well-deserved rude awakening coming. Their destruction and deceit will not go unnoticed, be tolerated, or allowed to succeed in the end.

  • William Safford says:

    The question that the residents of the City of Atlanta need to decide: do they want to keep and maintain the world-class orchestra that they already have, or do they want to stand by and watch as the WAC dismantles and decimates it?

    If the city can pony up hundreds of millions of dollars for a new stadium, surely they can support a world-class orchestra?

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