Kennedy Center Pays Workers After Legislators Threaten to Rescind Bailout

Kennedy Center Pays Workers After Legislators Threaten to Rescind Bailout

Last week, we reported that the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, even after receiving $25 million in the stimulus package passed in order to stem the economic impact of the Chinese coronavirus, would still not pay its orchestra until it reopened.

Thankfully, with some pressure from lawmakers and a looming lawsuit by the orchestra’s members, the Center decided to walk that decision back and struck a deal with the orchestra.

From the Washington Free Beacon:

The District of Columbia Federation of Musicians, the union that represents the orchestra members, announced to its 96 members on Tuesday morning that it had reached a deal to avoid unpaid furloughs stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Under the terms of the new agreement, musicians will take a partial pay cut as long as the Kennedy Center remains closed. They will also accept a wage freeze for the remainder of the calendar year.

In exchange for continued pay, the musicians agreed to drop a grievance filed against the Kennedy Center. Orchestra leaders welcomed the development but maintained that the center’s actions were illegal.

In a release obtained by WFB, the union stated that “That action [the furlough] was not permitted under our collective bargaining agreement.  In recognition of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Kennedy Center, however, we have agreed to modify our collective bargaining agreement to make substantial economic concessions.”

In its own statement, the Center stated:

“This is an unprecedented time for all of us here in D.C. and around the world,” Kennedy Center president Deborah F. Rutter said in a statement. “The severe economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have unfolded at an incredibly rapid pace, requiring all of us to work together and demanding the highest levels of strategic and creative thinking to solve our problems in the long-term. We are grateful to the musicians of the NSO for partnering with us and that, together, we have found a way forward.”

It’s nice of them to put out a statement telling us that they’d be doing the right thing after all – though it’s not surprising they left out the part where they point out this only happened because they were effectively forced to do so.

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