“After three weeks of federally mediated contract negotiations, talks between Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musicians and ASO and Woodruff Arts Center administrators again appear near impasse,” writes Howard Pousner in Friday’s (10/24) Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “No further sessions are planned, the musician lockout is entering its eighth week and additional concert cancellations in the 70th anniversary season are being openly discussed. Though there was notable progress on matters of pay and health benefits in talks with the mediators over the last three weeks, the sides could not come to terms on a core issue: the size of the orchestra going forward. The Woodruff/ASO’s chief negotiator, Alston & Bird attorney J. Thomas Kilpatrick, called it ‘the only real remaining issue in the negotiations.’ … In 2012, the musicians agreed to a cut in the orchestra’s ‘complement’ (number of full-time musicians) from 95 to 88. This time ASO and Woodruff (WAC) leaders seek ultimate control over the ASO’s size as a strategy to help halt 12 years of orchestra deficits…. The musicians have said repeatedly throughout negotiations that further cuts to their ranks would destroy their acclaimed sound.… Kirkpatrick said management’s most recent offer … would remain on the table until Monday afternoon. ‘If not accepted by that time,’ he wrote, ‘we will be forced to make further cancellations.’ ”

Posted October 27, 2014