- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - The union representing Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra musicians claims the orchestra didn’t bargain in good faith during recent contract negotiations and blind-sided them with plans to change concert rehearsal schedules.

The Kalamazoo Federation of Musicians, Local 228 of the American Federation of Musicians, filed an unfair labor practice charge against the orchestra on May 6, the Kalamazoo Gazette (https://bit.ly/1OQp3lI ) reported. It alleges that the orchestra violated federal law when it changed the days and times of rehearsals after a previous collective bargaining agreement had expired and before a new, tentative labor agreement could be completed.

The last full agreement between the union and the orchestra expired on Aug. 31, 2014. A tentative agreement was forged on March 24, but musicians haven’t voted on the pact.

“This schedule change throws things on its head,” Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra cellist and Local 228 Vice President Elizabeth Start said. “If we knew they were going to do that, we would have done everything differently.”

One of the main issues in the complaint are orchestra management’s plans to schedule two rehearsal sessions on each of the two days preceding the shows in the orchestra’s symphonic concert series.

Stuart said holding two sessions per day can be difficult for the musicians because many of them hold full-time jobs, work with other musical groups or teach music to children, which are necessary to make a living because many musicians with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra are paid less than $6,200 annually.

Peter Gistelinck, the orchestra’s president and chief executive officer, said language in the old and new contracts gives management full rights to change practice and rehearsal schedules.

“Everything that we are doing is completely in line with the old collective bargaining agreement, in line with the new (tentative) collective bargaining agreement, and in line with the tradition that we have with our other concerts,” he said.

Gistelinck said he welcomes an investigation of the unfair labor practice claim.

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Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette, https://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo

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