Brooklyn Philharmonic CEO: “If you are required to work with a union, why not try partnering with them in good faith?”
In a recent piece on The Huffington Post, the CEO and Managing Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Richard Dare, discussed the importance of unions in his field and how the musicians represented by the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) are well taken care of by their union. The post portrays unions as a collaborative partner, instead of a force to negotiate against.
Dare lists five reasons why unions are a friend of the arts community: normalizing pay, providing healthcare, paying for retirement, providing credit facilities and being a source of institutional memory and expertise.
Some of these may seem obvious, but Dare provides some helpful insights framed in an unconventional way for a CEO/business leader. On pay…
But because the union more or less standardizes labor rates, I’m less likely to have great musicians choose another organization over mine simply because the other group pays a few dollars more. I want our artists to choose the Brooklyn Phil because of the exciting and meaningful work we’re doing — because of the lives we’re changing, because it’s fun. As odd as this may sound, when fees are standardized the only criteria left from which to make a choice is excellence.
I’m delighted the union provides healthcare to all our musicians and relieves me of the burdensome task of administering that with our limited staff resources.
I would hate to have to manage a pension fund for such a small organization. I don’t think we could do it adequately with only about 150 workers. So I’m thrilled I don’t have to worry about that issue because the union has taken on the colossal responsibility of promising our musicians they’ll be taken care of when they retire by managing their pension fund. We could not afford the skill in-house to do that on our own.
At a time when anti-union op-eds are the norm, filled with talking points and misinformation on the very topics Dare takes on, it is encouraging to see a resounding stamp of approval for the workers and their representatives in the fine arts.