Performing Arts

FWSO musicians’ labor claim against management dropped

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra musicians conduct a sit-in at symphony offices downtown in late March.
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra musicians conduct a sit-in at symphony offices downtown in late March. American Federation of Musicians Local 72-147

The National Labor Relations Board dismissed an “unfair labor practices” claim made by the musicians union against the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra management.

In late March, the American Federation of Musicians Local 72-147 filed the complaint with the federal labor board, alleging that symphony management had changed its access to Bass Hall after the union held a sit-in at symphony offices. In the complaint, the union said the musicians’ keycard access had been deactivated to their workplace, “curbing access we’ve had for years to maintain our equipment, get to our personal property, and to prepare to perform.” At the time, FWSO was accompanying Texas Ballet Theater in rehearsals and performances of Cinderella at Bass Hall.

A federal labor investigator found that the changes were not made by symphony management but by Bass Hall.

“The evidence showed that any changes made to employees’ access were not implemented or requested by the Employer, but rather, they were made by the Employer’s landlord, a third party property owner,” said the National Labor Relations Board dismissal letter, which was dated June 30.

A spokesman for Performing Arts Fort Worth, which manages Bass Hall, declined to comment Tuesday.

The musicians union and symphony management have been in difficult contract talks since last year. Earlier this year, the union authorized a strike as management said it would impose concessionary contract terms that included 8 percent wage and benefit cuts. After a few tense weeks, both sides agreed to a contract extension, which will expire on July 31.

Fort Worth Symphony musicians staged a sit-in at the orchestra offices near Bass Hall on Thursday after management canceled upcoming contract negotiation meetings.

Last week, both parties agreed to enter federal mediation and expect to continue contract talks soon.

“The FWSOA is pleased that the National Labor Relations Board carefully studied the facts and ruled that there clearly was no evidence supporting the claim,” said symphony president Amy Adkins. “We look forward to mediation as we know all parties want to reach an agreement and allow the symphony to continue to be a high caliber arts and entertainment asset for our city.”

This story contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk