Press Release June 18, 2019

Press Statement 6-18-2019

Baltimore Symphony Musicians
June 18, 2019

How Did the Baltimore Symphony Musicians find themselves in a Lock-out?

On Day Two of the lockout of the Baltimore Symphony Musicians, we want to review how the contract negotiations brought us to this point.

After the Musicians agreed to a contract waiver that allowed the BSO’s August 2018 tour to Great Britain to move forward, our management cancelled a negotiation meeting scheduled in June with less than 24 hours’ notice. The orchestra’s leadership had secured $750,000 from the State of Maryland to help fund this tour. We found it interesting to read in the Baltimore Sun that on June 13 Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s spokesperson defined this financial assistance as money the state was giving to the symphony towards its reorganization.

After the Musicians returned from their very successful tour, on September 6 they sat down at the bargaining table with the orchestra’s management and board chair Barbara Bozzuto, three days before the expiration of the Musicians’ collective bargaining agreement. This was the first official bargaining session involving all members of the negotiating teams. At this meeting, management said they were not ready to negotiate and proposed to extend the existing agreement. The Musicians said they would agree to an extension as long as the organization would commit to a cost of living raise for the final week of the extension and also commit to filling the many vacant positions in the orchestra. BSO management rejected our proposal.

The Musicians began our 2018-2019 concert season without a contract in place. We gathered in our concert hall lobby prior to concerts to meet with our audience members, thank them for coming to our concerts, and give them flyers with information about how to follow the Baltimore Symphony Musicians on social media.

At the second bargaining session, on October 30, BSO management handed the Musicians its proposal, a totally rewritten contract; complete sections of the expired agreement were deleted. This proposal included a reduction in weeks from 52 to 40, a loss of 20% of income and benefits. Following this draconian proposal, the Musicians accepted the employer’s September 6 offer to extend the expired contract through January 15. Since January 16, when the extension expired, the Baltimore Symphony Musicians have been playing without a contract.

During the winter months, the Musicians initiated a Herculean effort to raise public awareness of the orchestra’s plight with the Maryland State General Assembly, resulting in the passage of House Bill 1404, which provides for $3.2 million in funding to support the BSO and to create a work group to analyze the effectiveness of the organization.

HB1404 became law on May 24 without the governor’s signature. On May 30, shortly before the morning rehearsal, BSO management asked for an urgent meeting with the Musicians’ bargaining committee. Members of the committee met with management immediately after the rehearsal and were told that Governor Hogan might not release the additional state funding. Then management said that our summer season was being cancelled, that we would be without work after June 16, and that management was reaffirming their October 30 proposal of cutting our contract by twelve weeks. By the time this meeting ended, management’s decision to cancel the summer season was out to the press; most of the Musicians heard the news from social media.

On June 13, Governor Hogan stated that he would not release the funding to the BSO, questioning management practices and the loss of donor confidence in the organization. Also on June 13, we found out that we would be locked out on June 17. Following our final concert of the winter season on June 16, Musicians cleaned out their lockers, and on June 17, the Baltimore Symphony Musicians started walking the picket line around Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

The most recent updates can be found on our Facebook page:

Contact: Co-Chairs Baltimore Symphony Musicians
Greg Mulligan (410) 979-0208
Brian Prechtl (410) 935-7322