An employer and the union representing its workers need to work together most of the time but every couple of years when the contract expires they can be at loggerheads. Negotiations are usually contentious and sometimes the folks at the table are loud and abusive. But not always–sometimes negotiators can disagree without being disagreeable.
Bill Klinger was one of those union negotiators who could effectively get his points across while always retaining his polite demeanor and good sense of humor. The American Federation of Musicians Local 369 lost a giant when Bill passed away earlier today.
Bill and I negotiated several contracts together. Yes he was always on the other side but I always enjoyed my time with him. Parrying with Bill was risky–he possessed a quick and sharp wit–I rarely matched him.
He and AFM Local 369 represented the musicians of the Las Vegas Philharmonic in contract negotiations. I can only imagine the challenges facing a union negotiator but I am certain that trying to reconcile the sometimes divergent views of 70 or so passionate professional musicians takes some real patience and skill.
I knew that Bill had good credentials but was not aware of how impressive his background was until I read his bio on the AFM website today. A graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, a member of the Miami Symphony and eventually a professor at University of Miami, Bill played with the most famous conductors, instrumentalists and opera stars the world over. There’s much more–read the entire bio here.
While doing all that he also found time to begin representing his AFM local in Miami in contract negotiations. When I started working with him a few years ago he had a few more years of negotiating experience than I did–he started negotiating for the Miami Symphony when I was about five years old.
We all lost a good soul today, we hope Bill rests in peace and we offer our sincere condolences to his loving wife Maxine.