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Kalamazoo Symphony Labor Dispute May Be Over

The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

It looks like the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra’s labor dispute may be coming to an end. KSO musicians filed an unfair labor practice charge against the symphony in May after the symphony changed rehearsal times without consulting its musicians. On Tuesday, the symphony agreed to withdraw those changes. 

Elizabeth Start is a cellist with the KSO and vice president of the American Federation of Musicians Local 228. She says she’s pleased with the symphony’s decision and so far the two groups have worked out many of the kinks in their new collective bargaining agreement.

“There were some points that were still sticking points. Those have been solved as well in these last few days - assuming of course that it gets ratified from both sides. It’s not over till it’s ratified,” says Start.

Symphony CEO Peter Gistelinck says the dispute has lasted long enough. He also says that the new tentative bargaining agreement is a great compromise between the musicians and management.

“You know in life you cannot get everything at the same time at least and for me it was very important - and also for our organization - that we could land as soon as possible in order to start the 2016-2017 season on a clean slate and where we could really focus on the music,” says Gistelinck.

The National Labor Relations Board is still investigating the unfair labor practice charge filed by the musicians. It’s unclear if the KSO musicians will formally drop the complaint.

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