Dozens of union members rallied this morning in front of the Fund for the Arts offices in support of the Louisville Orchestra musicians. Orchestra players and management have been embroiled in a contract dispute for more than a year, and musicians have been idle since their last contract expired in May.
Leaders of the AFL-CIO, firefighters’ union, the UAW and others say they’re upset with the management’s plans to hire replacement musicians if an agreement cannot be reached. They’re also upset with the Kentucky Opera for bringing on replacements for its upcoming performances.
The unions are urging their rank and file to withhold donations to the Fund for the Arts, which allocated $1.3 million to the orchestra in fiscal 2010.
“We have one of the leading orchestras in the country here and I for one don’t want to see us lose it. We’ll be there with whatever we need to do to make sure they prevail, we will do it,” said Charlie Clements, vice-president of the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council.
The unions also endorsed a report prepared by attorney Henry Fogel that calls on the Fund for the Arts and Mayor Fischer to convene a blue-ribbon panel to study the orchestra contract dispute and make recommendations to end the impasse. Fischer previously volunteered his chief of staff to lead talks between the two sides, but no agreement was reached.
The Fund for the Arts did not immediately return a call seeking comment.