The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, May 25, 2021 1:00 am

Musicians, Phil reach same note

Deal made for summer, 2021-22; 1st concert June 25

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne Philharmonic and its musicians have reached an agreement for summer performances and a full 2021-22 season.

The deal comes after about two years of contract negotiations, nine months of player furloughs and dozens of concerts canceled because of the pandemic.

The Philharmonic will perform its first concert in more than a year when it opens its annual Patriotic Pops shows June 25 at DeKalb Outdoor Theatre in Auburn.

The pops shows, including a performance June 26 at Parkview Field, are part of seven weeks of summer work to be followed by 28 weeks of regular work, the orchestra announced Monday.

The organization previously said it needed to reduce its annual budget by $2 million, which could include a cut in the number of musicians or shortening the length of the regular season. Musicians had said they would not agree to a contract that included permanent cuts to wages or changes in working conditions.

The new agreement includes the full number of core and per-service musicians and wages at 2019 levels, with an increase in summer work but a reduction in weeks for the regular season. The deal gives musicians “the opportunity to seek reinstatement of the orchestra's traditional winter season length at the negotiating table in a year's time,” Campbell MacDonald said Monday in a news release.

MacDonald, chairman of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Players' Association, said in a follow-up phone call that most of the musicians' conditions remain intact from their previous agreement. The main difference is the way the weeks of work are distributed through the year.

A typical season has been 33 weeks in the regular season with one week of summer work. The agreement announced Monday spreads 35 weeks of work across 12 months.

Employer-provided health care will be paid at 99% through Aug. 31, as it has been since the musicians' furloughs began Sept. 1, then returns to 70% as it was in the previous contract. One-time furlough offset payments of $4,000 for full-time musicians and $2,000 for per-service players will be made immediately, the orchestra said.

Also in the one-year agreement, maternity leave will be increased to seven weeks, musicians will be paid for participation in audition committees and there will be employer-covered consultations with a hearing protection specialist.

The agreement allows the players to get back to what they do while giving them the opportunity to continue seeking better wages in negotiations for future seasons, MacDonald said by phone.

“The past has been difficult for everyone, and this is a mark of progress,” he said.

With the agreement, the Philharmonic has been removed from the American Federation of Musicians' International Unfair List, MacDonald said

In a Philharmonic news release Monday, board Chairman Chuck Surack expressed gratitude to the negotiating teams “for hammering out an agreement that is fair for these extraordinary times.”

“More than ever, I am looking forward to hearing the Philharmonic come back to life this summer with an enhanced schedule of concerts for everyone, all over northeast Indiana,” he said.

Separately, the National Labor Relations Board agreed to a settlement with the Philharmonic on an unfair labor practice charge that the Philharmonic failed and refused to bargain in good faith with the union as the collective bargaining representatives of its employees, according to a statement from the Philharmonic given Monday to The Journal Gazette. A June 2 hearing on the charge has been canceled.

The players belong to Local 58 of the American Federation of Musicians union.

Region 25 of the NLRB also again ruled that the Philharmonic “acted within its rights when furloughing musicians during the pandemic that closed all public appearances,” the statement said. The NLRB dismissed an appeal of the charge alleging the Philharmonic violated the National Labor Relations Act. All outstanding charges against the Philharmonic have been resolved, according to the statement.

Summer season

Fort Wayne Philharmonic's summer season will include ensemble performances throughout the region, as well as the following concerts. More concert details will be announced soon, officials said.

June 25: Patriotic Pops at DeKalb Outdoor Theater in Auburn, 7:30 p.m.

June 26: Patriotic Pops at Parkview Field, 8:30 p.m.

June 27: Patriotic Pops at Oakwood Resort in Syracuse, 7:30 p.m.

June 30: Patriotic Pops at Ouabache State Park in Bluffton, 7 p.m.

July 1: Patriotic Pops at Pokagon State Park in Angola, 7:30 p.m.

July 4: Patriotic Pops at Bixler Lake Park in Kendallville, 8:30 p.m.

July 17: TBD performance at Foellinger Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

July 25: “Music of Queen,” Sweetwater Performance Pavilion, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 15: TBD performance at Foellinger Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

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