Having told the musicians they wont be covered past May, Deborah Rutter realised it’s illegal.
Here’s the latest from the musicians:
Washington, DC—Today, the musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra released a statement firing back at Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter’s decision to furlough the musicians, making their last paycheck April 3rd. Rutter also threatened to take away the healthcare of the musicians past May. The announcement comes on the heels of the news that the Kennedy Center would receive a $25 million grant as part of the coronavirus stimulus package.
On Tuesday, the musicians sent a legal letter to Kennedy Center management, challenging the legality of the decision to furlough them. The letter notes in part:
“In particular, we write to respond to the Kennedy Center’s position, as expressed on our call yesterday, that it unilaterally can “suspend” the parties’ entire collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) because of “exigent circumstances” on one week’s notice. That position is baseless.”
Said Steve Wilson, bassoonist and Co-Chair of the Orchestra Committee:
“On the same day that President Trump signed the stimulus package that would send $25 million to the Kennedy Center for, among other expenses, employee compensation, Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter illegally decided to stop paying us, and refused to promise to continue our healthcare past May.
“We were glad to learn yesterday that the Center has now decided that it will cover ‘full healthcare benefits for all furloughed employees.’ But it is unfortunate that Rutter and Kennedy Center management have opted to violate our contract and federal labor law rather than come to us to discuss a collective solution.