Labor Crisis Leaves St. Louis Symphony Musicians Without Health Insurance

Classic Arts News   Labor Crisis Leaves St. Louis Symphony Musicians Without Health Insurance
The St. Louis Symphony canceled its musicians' health insurance when they rejected management's final contract offer, beginning a work stoppage, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Musicians say they did not know that their insurance has been terminated until last week, when cellist Melissa Brooks-Rubright brought her two-year-old son, suffering from a fever-induced seizure, to the hospital. A day after the boy was admitted, the hospital told Brooks-Rubright that her insurance had been canceled.

Orchestra president Randy Adams told the paper than musicians should have known that their insurance had been suspended. According to Adams, union leaders spoke to SLSO chief financial officer James Garrone about the issue on January 3, shortly before musicians voted on management's final offer. Soon thereafter, management sent musicians a letter telling them that they could enroll in the federal COBRA program to extend their current coverage.

But musicians apparently assumed that the insurance would not be canceled immediately, in part because the orchestra paid premiums in advance (those premiums were later returned to the SLSO). In addition, musicians said, health insurance had not been canceled during previous strikes.

"I have no knowledge of that," Adams told the Post-Dispatch, "but I will say that health insurance costs today are quite different than they were 25 years ago."

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