Word on the street in Richmond, VA is the proposed legislation (VA HB 1254) to bar orchestra musicians from collecting unemployment during non-employed weeks is ostensibly dead in the water. The representative responsible for introducing the legislation, at the behest of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra (RSO) board and executive director, officially withdrew it from consideration by the state’s Commerce and Labor Sub-Committee; but now, the real fun begins.
In a letter to its musicians, the RSO board implied that if the legislation failed, the $70,000 they hoped to save via reduced unemployment obligations will have to be recouped during the traditional negotiation process. It’s also worth pointing out that the RSO board has already stated that they intend to secure $350,000 in cuts by the end of the negotiation cycle (which included the $70k).
Determination notwithstanding, it’s rare for either stakeholder to exit concessionary negotiations having secured the vast majority of everything they intended to secure.
But one unusual variable in this scenario that might make the board’s task more challenging than usual is both sides enter talks with an unusually high degree of fresh animosity; whether or not that will influence how negotiations unfold is something that time will tell. Hopefully, both sides have filed the requisite paperwork to make sure the Federal Mediation & Conciliation (FMCS) is on notice.
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