Here’s a story I just posted on Fresnobee.com:
Tonight’s Renee Fleming concert could be in jeopardy because the orchestra members say they will refuse to play if their union agreement isn’t reached by curtain time with Fresno Grand Opera.
Larry Gardner, president of Local 12 of the American Federation of Musicians, said the union broke off talks at 5 p.m. The negotiations were the latest in an attempt to come to an agreement on a new contract.
Members authorized a strike at a vote taken Monday, Gardner said. Contract negotiations between the union and the Fresno Grand Opera started in fall 2010, he said. (The union has a separate contract with the Fresno Philharmonic.) The most contentious issue involves the opera’s hiring practices, Gardner wrote in a news release.
“Under the current agreement, musicians are hired from a roster of contract musicians by seat and rank. Local 12 AFM has been frustrated with the employer’s manner of hiring musicians. In many instances during this season, (the opera) has waited until one to two weeks prior to major productions and performances to hire musicians. This is not acceptable. Musical integrity and continuity of the ensemble are compromised by (Fresno Grand Opera’s) ‘revolving door’ hiring practices.”
Asked in an interview how the labor action would affect this evening’s performance, Gardner said musicians plan to be at the Saroyan Theatre “to walk the walk” in a picket line.
An email and phone call to Ronald D. Eichman, the opera’s general director, went unanswered late this afternoon.
Gardner said there’s still a line of communication open between the union and opera management.
The concert is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.