Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Message to ASO Board from ATL Symphony Musicians

Save Our Symphony Atlanta obtained the following letter, which was sent to the ASO Board earlier this evening ... we are sharing it here to inform people about the WAC’s actions -- or lack of action -- in mediation.

A Message to Members of our ASO Board of Directors from the Musicians of the Orchestra

We write to you this evening in order to keep you as up-to-the-minute informed as possible on where we are in the mediation process.

Unfortunately, the actions of the Woodruff Arts Center’s representatives, acting for the ASO, have been very disappointing. Last week, we agreed to make ourselves available for meetings with FMCS Acting Director Allison Beck and her colleague, Rich Giacolone, which were scheduled from Tuesday morning through the remainder of the week. We cleared our schedules (and several of us turned down lucrative work for the week that we very much need after six weeks of lockout) in order to fully engage and be able to reach a contract settlement last week.

Yet after only two days of participating in the mediated negotiation process (October 7 – 8), the WAC’S representatives (Virginia Hepner, WAC lawyer Tom Kilpatrick, Susan Ambo and Julie Fish) left the table to await further guidance and instruction from the WAC Governing Board, so meetings for the remainder of the week were cancelled. We expected to hear from them or the mediators Monday so that we could meet this week. We have not heard from the WAC about the results of the “pause” they sought in the mediation process — but clearly, once again, they arrived at the table with neither proposals nor the ability to authorize a deal.

Seven days have gone by since the mediation efforts were paused at the WAC’s request. But yesterday we were informed by Allison Beck that there will be now no meeting this week. Ms. Beck had informed everyone that she would be away for one week beginning tomorrow, but would make her able colleague, Mr. Giacolone, available, which we indicated was agreeable to us. We have also communicated that with or without the mediators’ participation, the ASOPA committee can receive proposals and meet to discuss them, and can reach an agreement. However, as we write you this afternoon, we have no meeting scheduled.

Our will to preserve our Orchestra is every bit as strong as our desire that this damaging lockout end. We continue to wait for movement from the WAC leadership that would preserve the ASO as a world-class orchestra and prevent the image of the City of Atlanta from being further tarnished as a premier destination to visit, to live, and to be in business.

We call on you to reach out within the WAC and the ASO, as well as to the Governor, our Mayor, and other civic leaders of metro Atlanta, to make clear to the Woodruff Arts Center leadership that the destructive tactics typified by the lockout and takedown of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, if allowed to persist, will have serious and far-reaching consequences for the ASO, the Woodruff Arts Center and our entire community. The insensitivity to the Musicians and our families, who have been deprived of paychecks, healthcare benefits, and the ability to collect unemployment benefits for six weeks now, however, is daily more deplorable — and already we are losing Musicians to other orchestras. The damage already wrought by the WAC – the very institution entrusted with the stewardship of Atlanta’s cultural pride — will take years to reverse. But it can be reversed, and must be.

We are very appreciative of the guidance and support offered by Ms. Beck and Mr. Giacolone through the FMCS. We understand that it is not they who can make a settlement happen, unless the WAC avails itself of the opportunity to stop wasting precious time and truly work to get the ASO back in its place, serving the Atlanta community through its artistry.

Please make your voices heard!

1 comment:

  1. I hate to say it, but this is what I had feared about the federal mediation process. It is not binding arbitration, and the mediators have no real power to subpoena records, or to do anything but ASK for the cooperation of both sides. Ms. Hepner and the WAC governing board are free to obfuscate the truth, dither, delay, and play games with the musicians lives. WAC will be leaving a shameful legacy of willfully mishandling their fiduciary responsibilities unless they soon start acting in good faith.