The management and musicians of the Louisville Orchestra have been in talks for the next season’s contract for about a year, but as deadlines approach, no agreement is in place. The first concert is scheduled for September 10, and rehearsals are supposed to start the week prior. But unless a contract is in place, the musicians can’t play. That’s because the Louisville Orchestra has joined Wayne Newtown and the Richardson Symphony in Texas on the America Federation of Musicians “unfair list.”
The AFM added the orchestra to the list this week. Any union members who play could face potentially career-ending punishments or fines.
“I don’t think there is a large cadre of non-union players waiting to come work for the Louisville Orchestra,” says union president Ray Hair. “Certainly the kind of skill and experience that union musicians bring to the table is not available.”
Hair says Orchestra CEO Rob Birman had hinted that the orchestra could hire nonunion musicians to play concerns. Birman says he hasn’t and the unfair listing is a tactic in the labor talks and won’t affect the tone or urgency of the negotiations at all.
“The negotiations have only one fruitful outcome, and that would be an agreement,” he says. “What we need is our musicians to return to work and to come to the table and to put a serious proposal on the table.”
Hair says the listing is meant to encourage the management to put forward a reasonable offer for a new contract. The musicians have rejected a proposal to cut the orchestra’s size and season length.