Chicago musician and manager Drew McManus writes the Adaptistration blog about symphonies (“the only weblog dedicated to issues about the orchestra business”). His take on the Richardson Symphony-musician’s union standoff?
The RSO board could have made life simpler for themselves and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy — and then re-organized.
According to public statements and media reports, the RSO has had financial trouble for some time, is carrying a 14 percent deficit, and has no cash reserves or lines of credit so it wouldn’t be difficult to justify liquidation bankruptcy.
Furthermore, this would have allowed them to form the new organization any way they wished; meaning, with or without a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by a labor union. Add to that the opportunity to replace maestro Brusilow with someone less, shall we say, unfiltered and they would have been in a much stronger position to build the organization they desired.
Throw the baby out with the bathwater? But surely, the union would recognize this as a ploy to get around them — and strenuously object to any new orchestra being formed without a collective bargaining agreement. So what advantage is that?
Well, says, McManus, that fight would be nothing compared to what the RSO has now. But “given the amount of right-to-work vs. organized labor rhetoric coming out of the RSO, it seems clear that’s the battle they want to fight. From the RSO leadership’s perspective, this isn’t apparently about live orchestral music any more, it’s a political issue.”