Union: ISO threatening to cancel shows if demands not met

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The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is threatening to cancel the first two weeks of its 2012-2013 season if musicians do not accept management’s proposal for new contracts, union representatives said Friday.

The musicians’ negotiating committee said ISO executives gave a Sept. 7 deadline to accept their proposal, otherwise the organization will cancel its shows on Sept. 14-15 and Sept. 21-23.

“While we continue to negotiate with the [Indianapolis Symphony] Society in good faith, we were dismayed to learn that they are threatening to cancel the first two concerts of the season,” Richard Graef, chairman of the musician’s negotiating committee, said in a prepared statement. “It is and always has been our goal to find a solution that not just offers financial sustainability, but keeps the musicians on stage playing great music for the community.”

IBJ first reported Tuesday that the ISO’s administrators wanted significant concessions from the musicians as a cost-saving move. The moves would turn the full-time orchestra into a part-time operation.

As of Thursday afternoon, management was seeking the elimination of 18 musicians (from 87 to 69), across-the-board pay cuts of more than 40 percent, a reduction in the performance season from 52 weeks to 38 weeks, and major changes to the pension plan, according to the union.

The musicians’ most recent offer included an orchestra with 82 musicians, pay cuts of less than 14 percent and 14 weeks of unpaid furloughs over five years.

Management rejected the union’s latest proposal, according to Friday’s statement. The ISO said Friday afternoon that it will exchange tickets with anyone holding them if the concerts are canceled.
Jackie Groth, the ISO's interim CEO, said management offered the ultimatum because it wanted to make sure ticket holders had enough time to swap shows before it was too late.
“There’s a date which you can’t go beyond [the contract deadline] without knowing whether you can perform,” she said.


  • Ungrateful Union?
    Seriously? This notion needs to be headed off at the start. The members of the ISO already make half of what other musician make in other major orchestras. They've not had a raise, effectively, in 9 years. What poses for management is asking for a 42% cut in salaries. Could you live with a 42% salary cut? Would a line worker at the Honda plant, who hasn't had a raise in 9 years and has to work Friday nights, Saturday nights and some Sundays accept a 42% salary cut? Be honest...you're John Thornburgh writing in under an alias.....
  • Welfare for the Beltway?
    Didn't the Lilly Endowment just recently give $5 million to the National Cathedral in Washington, in order to repair earthquake damage to the building's roof? That chunk of money, already sent 500 miles away, would have helped considerably to ease the current ISO crisis. So is this the musicians' fault?
  • iso
    Goodbye iso... Nice not knowing you. Ungrateful union. You are only hurting yourself nite thinking about the public.
    • you're making fun, right?
      BigO- You can lead the band! What musical instrument is your specialty? They probably do do that in Shelbyville. We should only aspire. Seriously, the people who "came together" founded and financed the orchestra to improve the community, provide quality music for many more people, and leave a legacy of philanthropy. It was something wealthy individuals did and were brought up to do. Well, times change, there are fewer wealthy families of that ability or mindset, but the community still must shine in order to compete. And sports, while nice, do not do that the way the Arts do. Just because you may not value the orchestra a patron, or even as a casual observer, does not mean it does not play a crucial part in the vitality of the community.
    • Money
      Remember when many cities had a group of citizens that would come together for the holidays and play music for everyone for free or just a small amount to pay for the venue cost. Would love to see the ISO and their union to move out of the way and see this happen again or some state universities come and fill any need if there is one.
      • can't believe
        I can't believe what some of you are talking about. Maybe I just don't understand your reference to capitalism; does everything in our lives have to be made for a profit? Certainly the Colts and Pacers are not making it without help from the city; except the owners and players. They make a very large profit. Why cannot this city have a full symphony orchestra? There is talk about another stadium for the Colts to attract another Super Bowl. No, I cannot believe that. I certainly cannot believe the ISO board is holding a "gun to my head" to get their costs down. But they are. So if I ask for a refund on my tickets am I hurting the musicians, the board, the community or just myself? My ancestors use to paint on cave walls and beat on drums. It was necessary for their lives. How can we live without this full symphony?
      • For Refunds of Your ISO Tickets
        For refunds of your Indianapolis Symphony Tickets, please contact John R. Thornburgh, Ice Miller LLP, 317-236-2405 or email john.thornburgh@icemiller.com
      • ISO Union demands
      • Democracy and Capitalism
        So, with regard to Wisconsin. The Union of like-minded people considering DEBT, a master, VOTED their interest and dissolved the governmental Union. In that sense, the larger union co-opted the smaller. The voice of the majority out-weighed, out-voted the minority AND respecting their right to exist but not determine the fate of others. Was money involved? You bet. Were superPACs and business and other factors involved? You bet. Was there a disparity in getting the message out. Maybe. But, ULTIMATELY, the decision was put to VOTE to oust the governor or to sustain is directive by the people for the people in order to form a more perfect union; IE a more fiscally responsive UNION int the interest of sustaining THE UNION. The majority spoke; they voted; their minds and votes were and are not for sale despite what people would like to believe. That is the beauty of democracy; people have a say, the individual is uplifted and not oppressed. That is why democracy prevails and is more peaceful and sustainable than any other system. So, to sum up. Democracy and Capitalism. What else is there?
      • Q, George, Capitalism is King.
        George, To put it in more realistic terms: The ISO is a benefit (fit) to many people who enjoy it. I have. It is also a benefit to surrounding business as are many things. That's why business aggregates in cultural and more concentrated use areas; to draw business; to 'survive'. Your viewpoint is a more high-minded, more culturally responsible way. Pay it forward. I have gone to some restaurants who give a discount for attendees of the concert. I would hope that businesses would understand the benefit (fit) derived and would then be beneFactors and contribute to the ISO and that the ISO would 'encourage' this perception. This more evolved way of perception benefits everyone and it is almost incumbent upon businesses to also give back; to support what they consider as beneficial (benefiscal). You are going to have people and businesses who take more than they give and this activity is less beneficial to others; a 'tax' in some way on others. Please continue your passionate resolve for a better world but most of betterment is in education and information as to what benefit, beneficence truly is. To Capitalism is KING. What can I say. Unions have a purpose. "We, the people, in order to form a more perfect union ...". Unions formed originally to uplift the downtrodden, to raise them above mere oppressed workers and they had a great purpose and have benefited many. But, in the course of time, they become as much of the problem when they demand more than can be afforded. I am sometimes surprised when it seems as if unions 'think' that all jobs are their jobs and, if you do not belong to a Union, then you are somehow deriving them of their 'right'. This attitude becomes so prevalent that sometimes unions strike and bring a company to point where it has to close. How does the 'union' then benefit (fit) the union member or the company; all fail. There has to be a compromise as, most often, there is. The collective force will always be more effective than the individual; that is why we form unions on a business or a national, formative size. Capitalism is king only with respect (respect) to being an Order. Capitalism is not a King to be served nor is it a King to be feared. Capitalism simply IS. It is a better form of barter so we don't have to carry around carts of produce. Above all, it is a very efficient way to determine relative value. People need to understand that capitalism benefits (fits) One and should benefit others .... TOO! But the latter takes a benevolent person who is more cognoscente (sense) as to wear true wealth lies; in all of the people. The latter is a choice. Capitalism unto itself is an order (at a restaurant?) only to realize 'value'; what people choose to do with the fruits of that value is a choice; a VERY important choice to perpetuate CHOICE.
      • Fine, 'credit'
        George, First, I congratulate you for your devotion to your employees and 'sacrificing' your bottom line and arguing for a better quality of life. Second, I empathize with your quality observation that there are secondary (if not primary benefits) to surrounding organizations and businesses. These benefits are part of the equation as you indicate and ARE taken into consideration when our 'leaders' weigh the options to spend 'our' dollars for subsidizing or increasing the sales tax for the Colts. But what if your business wasn't doing so well? What then becomes primary importance? I would love that everybody was doing well. I would love that we have a robust economy. The Exact Targets, Christel DeHaans, and Bill Gates (and Rockefellers and Carnagies and ...) and you to some extent ARE what make this world better, no doubt. But these monies are a result of individuals providing valued product which is freely purchased by those who have a NEED or a desire to spend discretionary money. The profit generated is theirs; they could have asked for less and we, as consumers can decide for ourselves whether anything, anything we purchase is worth the value. Every purchase of a loaf of bread is a VOTE which is why I believe capitalism is a natural order which is indiscriminate in how a society is 'formed'. We need more people like you who understand value beyond the 'bottom-line' but that is a choice you have of what 'value' is and whether it is 'worth it'. It is not the purpose of government to 'decide' this value for us. I'm for putting the 'value' of wars to vote 'by a super-majority of U.S. (the taxpayer, 'the people') knowing full well we are going to have to 'pay' in many ways by blood or money'. How else is this 'value' determined. We're in this together, not-divided; it is OUR country. It all works the same at the market, ISO, Union, State, or the Country. In some sense it (the world) is a marketplace with BILLIONS haggling over 'value'. It is not for any one group to decide for the rest of U.S. through 'agendas' real or perceived. That is the greatness of a FREE society. If a group wants to form a union to negotiate better rates for themselves for health-care or music; great; they get the benefits and sometimes bestow their beneficence (beneficents, benefisense, benefiscience) upon others. THIS is the greatness of a FREE society.
      • Fine, you're not giving yourself enough credit.
        In my humble and maybe flawed opinion I think you're pretty much spot on. Where I disagree - and where the board is totally whiffing - is that you can't strictly apply the same P&L and budget and Balance sheet precepts to a non profit as you do with a for profit business. Where does "happy" go on my balance sheet? Or opportunity costs lost because of bonehead management and bad marketing and absentee music directors. I run a small (profitable, it might suprise you to learn) company. I give my employees the two weeks before Christmas every year to work from home and be with their families. Wreaks havoc with my bottom line. But the value I get outside/beyond the bottom line to my company is immeasurable. So too with the ISO. We're a million short on the bottom line. But a dozen people moved to Indy because we have a symphony orchestra. And 3 companies move to Indy because they want something like this accessible to their employees. And, oh, by the way, all the restaurants and bars around the circle? Their business goes up more on a symphony Saturday than it did during the Super Bowl (all the business stayed in the Super Bowl village). And the parking garages and hotels and cabs. How do you put on the bottom line budget of the symphony the fact that it's part of $386 million that gets brought to downtown Indianapolis each and every year? That's where John Thornburgh's math - and common sense - breaks down completely. Then it becomes what? Ego and break the union. Because there's no other logical reason. Ask Pittsburgh. Ask Cleveland. Both cities that Indy could aspire to. Instead, we're modelling ourselves after Columbus, Detroit and Buffalo. Again, makes no sense. There is only one real answer here...they can afford to kick the can while they get their house in order. So do it.
      • That was my point, actually.
        Citizen's United gave corporations personhood and, unions being corporations, were also granted personhood. Therein lies the rub...if, hypothetically, I wanted the Koch Brother to be able to donate with no controls to MY political candidates but I had, say, teachers unions donating with no controls to THEIR political candidates what is one viable solution? Bust the unions, of course.
      • No Great Loss
        A shut down would not be the end of the world. Not sure they would be greatly missed in the grand scheme of things.
      • Fine
        Budgets are budgets. They have to balanced. If the ISO can't work with the budget; then raise ticket prices. Same with the Colts. Optional' services should not be on the books. As to the GOP 'agenda' in Wisconsin. Spending has to be reigned in. You can tax, tax, tax for pension programs greater than the average citizen gets or 're-negtiate' for 'more reasonable' terms. When will tax and spend people understand that the average system doesn't NEED to spend except for things like Police, Fire Dpt, and other 'necessary' functions; not perverse pension programs by government employees who work for U.S. (the taxpayer) and not for some ideal society that forces U.S. (the taxpayer) to live beyond our means. If I wan't to go to the symphony and it costs $1000 per ticket, so be it but don't ask for subsidies. Same for the Colts. What's 'better' for society than a balanced budget. I know, I'm an old cretin; not up to the 'new society' for all whether you want it or not. FINE
        • Unions Are Corporations
          George, you do realize that unions are corporations, don't you? If associations of people don't have some independent corporate existence, how would they function? The introduction of corporate personhood actually comes from the Middle Ages and is one of the greatest innovations in the history of the world.
        • Hadn't thought of the political angle
          Interesting...I'd forgotten that the other side of the coin of Citizen's United was that it not only gave corporations inexplicable "personhood" but it also gave unions "personhood" and that part of the GOP strategy in the aftermath of the ridiculous Citizen's United verdict was the attack on unions (Wisconsin teachers weigh in here)in an effort to disband them and get as much control out of the hands of real, actual, flesh and blood "persons" in elections as they possible. That way, the GOP's corporate "persons" could exact undue influence over elections (Koch brothers weigh in here). But this does explain why the board is pushing the union so hard with demands that have absolutely no basis in reality. I repeat...the ISO board is pushing for demands that have absolutely no basis in reality. Why would they do that? Hmmmmm.....
        • Question:
          How many of the ISO members voted Republican and/or plan on still voting Republican in the next election? It is apparent to many of us that the agenda of the G.O.P. is to stifle unions no-matter who they represent or WHY.Think about it. It's your job and lively hood.Management thinks' you (I.S.O)members have it too good? Maybe. To work in good faith is to help each side.Somebody better awake to the fact that this is now or never and never can be along time
          • Shame on the ISO Administrators
            It is a sad day for the Arts in Indianapolis. Bravo to George Evans for telling it like it is...I can't think of much to add to his posts so I will just say I agree, and it is reprehensible the way the Administrators are dealing with the ISO...no reason to wait to call John Thornburg when concerts are cancelled...call him now and tell him that the hatchet job he is trying to pull off is unacceptable.
          • Finally, how dare they?
            The more I think about this, the more angry I'm getting. How dare the board of directors and the part-time, interim management of the ISO resort to what amounts to extortion to try and get the musicians to bend to their ridiculous contract offer. They're trying to use the musicians love of what they do...and their love for their audience...as a cudgel. Don't they realize we can see through this? And where are the ISO sponsors in all this? Marsh and Lilly and Exact Target and Christel DeHaan and so many others have contributed so, so much to making this a world-class orchestra and a world-class city, why is the ISO betraying them, too? None of this makes any sense...especially since the ISO could play for the next three years and not make a penny with the $85 million they have in the symphony endowment. There's something else at work here...particularly puzzling since what the ISO is proposing has been tried and has failed with a number of smaller orchestras. The board needs to be restructured. Full time management needs to be put into place. A full-time resident conductor needs to be put in place. And a year under the old contract needs to be continued and this thing fixed right...not knee jerk with a week's notice. It also steams me that the musicians offered to bring in the head of the Kennedy Center to consult on the turnaround. They've also consulted a financial firm to develop their own business plan. All of this has been rejected by the board. I'm left wondering why the board doesn't want this to work...and now that this has all come out I can only think of one reason - EGO. I found a lot of this info on isomusicians.com by the way if you want to follow along for yourself. Thanks for listeniing.
            • Expected Response
              At some point, I guess we had to expect the ISO and the board itself to try and turn this around to feel like somehow the musicians are causing this. They just won't be able to make that stick...you look at the way the orchestra has been mismanaged, so supremely poorly marketed, poorly represented in the community by a full-time music director since the departure of Maestro Leppard and blind-sided by this riduculous and insulting and embarrassing offer by the current board and there's just no way the ISO is going to be able to point the finger at musicans who haven't had raises in effectively 9 years. Your symphony players already make about half what other major symphony musicians make in other real cities. Your symphony players have already offered almost $4 million in concessions so they could keep playing. Your symphony musicians have already offered to work another year under the existing contract (which already represents more than 12% cut over what they should be making this year) while the symphony finds a CEO, Marketing Director and Development/Fundraising Director (that's right, there currently is NO MANAGEMENT at the ISO outside of a few well-meaning interim folks who the Board Of Directors is also putting in an untenable position). So yeah...let's see how they try to make this out to be the musicians fault. The Detroit symphony is currently budgeting for a $3 million shortfall for this coming year. Your symphony is being gutted for a $1 million shortfall...and the board is asking for $10 million in cuts from the musicians for a total shortfall of $3 million. What's with that? Something stinks in the attic on this one...the only sane answer is for the Board to accept the musician's offer to play under the current contract until new management is in place and a deal can be approached that doesn't gut an Indiana treasure. If concerts are cancelled, give John Thornburgh at Ice Miller a call (he's the Board president) to ask for your refund.
              • IU Repeat?
                Sounds vaguely similar to when IU decided to make its chemistry department earn its keep in enrollment and all their great professors left for the coasts. Not sure if IU sciences ever recovered from an intellectual standpoint. My guess is they did from a financial standpoint. Not sure which is right.
              • here we go
                Lockout => musicians flee => amateur orchestra => other organizations flee => Indy to cultural wasteland265 nm

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