September 12 at 7:33pm · The Musicians of the St. Louis Symphony today voted unanimously to send $100 each to the Musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. We are behind your efforts 100%, with our hearts, our minds, and our wallets.
Seattle Musicians' Statement on Atlanta Symphony Lockout | September 12, 2014 http://m.ssopo.org/news/index.html
The musicians of the Seattle Symphony are saddened and dismayed by the Atlanta Symphony's profoundly destructive decision to lock out its musicians. Rather than negotiate in good faith, the ASO board and management are again seeking to place the burden of sacrifice on the Atlanta musicians. Just two years ago, the musicians agreed to make sacrifices with the promise that management would find a path to fiscal stability and lasting artistic greatness. ASO management is now breaking that promise.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, with its long and esteemed history as one of the nation's premiere orchestras, has for decades been the crown jewel of Atlanta's arts scene. ASO musicians correctly recognize that the way to maintain this tradition of excellence is through inspired, energetic, and imaginative leadership, with an eye toward cultivating its most valuable assets: the artists themselves. The current ASO leadership seems to offer precisely the opposite. The musicians of the Seattle Symphony stand steadfastly in support of our Atlanta colleagues during this difficult time, and will assist them in any way we can as they attempt to preserve the excellence of their institution and ensure a future of artistic greatness.
ISO Musicians issue statement of support for musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
(Indianapolis, Ind.) The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Players Association (ISOPA) issued a statement of support today for the musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), who were locked out by management on Sept. 7.
“The Musicians of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra would like to express our full support for our colleagues, the Musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
On September 7, the ASO management locked out the musicians for the second time in as many years upon the expiration of their most recent, deeply concessionary contract. It is unfortunate that the management of the ASO does not recognize the potential artistic pitfalls their current proposals would create, as explained on the musician’s website.
The epidemic of planned lockouts of the artists who make up our great orchestras is deplorable. It greatly concerns us that orchestra managers and boards across our country are flocking to a trend that balances their budgets on the backs of musicians. These actions threaten the very existence of the orchestras we all have worked so hard to build. In order to preserve the future artistic quality and cultural viability of our nation’s orchestras, these measures must end.
These lockouts will only serve to solidify and strengthen the community of classical musicians of this country. We have seen it here in Indianapolis, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the Met – just to name a few. The proud and artistically gifted symphony orchestras of this country have taken decades to grow into the cultural treasures they have become. They must be protected and treated as such now more than ever.
For more information, please visit www.atlsymphonymusicians.com and support our colleagues.”
The full text of the statement from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians:
On behalf of the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the musicians’ Members Committee has issued the following statement in response to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s (“ASO”) lockout of its musicians:
“The musicians of the Chicago Symphony stand squarely behind their brothers and sisters in Atlanta, who have been locked out by ASO management – for the second time in two years – for refusing to give in to demands for unreasonable and unacceptable contract terms. We particularly deplore ASO management’s decision to use the harshest possible hardball labor tactic, the lockout, instead of working with the musicians to reach a labor agreement in an atmosphere of good faith and respect.
“The ASO has evidently made the grave mistake of trying to meet financial challenges by constantly cutting. All that does is degrade the quality of the music and offer audiences a lesser experience, resulting in a downward spiral as concertgoers and donors turn away. The ASO obtained cuts two years ago by locking out its musicians, and its finances failed to improve. The ASO clearly did not learn the right lesson.
“The ASO’s destructive and misguided actions should have no place in the world of symphony orchestras. Symphony orchestras must value their artists, without whom those organizations would not even exist. Locking out musicians, and terminating their pay and benefits as a way to force them to accept management-dictated contract terms, is reprehensible.
“The musicians of the Chicago Symphony further urge all musicians, nationally and internationally, to join us in condemning this lockout.”
by Rob Knopper
The Atlanta Symphony Musicians were locked out on the morning of September 7th. This means that, after decades of securing a financially feasible way of life, and two years after taking deep concessionary cuts to salary, weeks of work, and number of musicians in the orchestra, they are once again being asked for more.
This hits a sore spot for the MET Orchestra Musicians. Our recent labor dispute went right to the brink. After months of public disputes, we agreed to a concessionary contract that calls for extensive oversight of our management.
Much of the power that musicians wield comes from a simple concept: together we are stronger than we are individually. We saw that, with a unanimous strike authorization vote in May, and a deep confidence in our fellow orchestra members and elected committee members, we were able to stand up in the face of extreme, career-altering demands from our management.
In the same way that internal solidarity helps us in times of need, we felt the support of other orchestras, community members, and classical music fans through email, social media, and on the Internet. Additionally, we started to see many bloggers and politicians give us their support. This support wasn't just helpful - it was essential.
Public support may have been what tipped the balance in our case, and we know from the depths of our own negotiating experience how it can help. Here is what that you can do to help the Atlanta Symphony Musicians during this difficult time:
September 9, 2014 | AFM President Slams Atlanta Orchestra CEO on Lockout FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York, NY— American Federation of Musicians International President Ray Hair took aim at Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) CEO Stanley Romanstein today after a second lockout within two years was imposed on musicians at midnight Saturday, September 6.
“Stanley Romanstein has again resorted to starvation as a weapon in his quest to extract unjustified concessions from his employees, all to pay for his failure to manage one of America’s leading orchestras,” Hair said. “Romanstein’s starve-out tactics are an indication of his inability to lead the institution. He also knows the orchestra would never voluntarily bow to his reckless and regressive demands to cover the company’s self-inflicted wounds.”
The orchestra’s musicians bailed out company finances and ended a management-imposed lockout two years ago by accepting pay cuts of more than 14% and agreeing to reduce the size of the orchestra. In the current round of contract talks, management has demanded the right to unilaterally change any aspect of the musicians’ health plan, at any time. Another management demand would eliminate the minimum number of musicians required to produce quality performances, allowing Romanstein to shrink the orchestra to whatever size he wants—down to 60, 50, or 35 players, exposing musicians to unilateral change in employment terms at any time.
“By attempting to establish a feudal system, which would destroy the lives of musicians who have done nothing but bring joy to the community, Romanstein is threatening to destroy the institution itself,” Hair said. “I doubt that citizens of Atlanta would want that to happen.”
The 2014-15 ASO season had been promoted as a celebration of its 70th anniversary.
An ICSOM "Call to Action" for assistance to the musicians of the Atlanta Symphony From the ICSOM Governing Board
As you are all no doubt aware, the musicians of the Atlanta Symphony have been locked out by their management as of midnight on September 7, an act even more egregious because it is the second time in two years. The musicians are taking a courageous stand to protect their organization and preserve the investment that the citizens of Atlanta have made in their historic orchestra for 70 years. We have all followed the press accounts of this negotiation and seen the destructive proposals by management that would permanently alter the ability of the organization to serve and best represent its community.
It is essential that the musicians of ICSOM respond whenever and wherever our members are in need. It is through our united network of orchestras that we can effectively articulate that a move against one of us is a move against all of us. In this way, we will demonstrate to all of our managements that our communities deserve positive stewardship of their cherished cultural institutions.
The musicians of the Atlanta Symphony need our financial support. We ask, and encourage, all the orchestras of ICSOM to consider making a financial donation to the cause. A donation from your treasury, or a collection taken by the members of your Players' Association, would be of great assistance. We are confident that all of the musicians in our ICSOM orchestras are eager to stand with their colleagues in Atlanta.
Wherever an orchestra is in trouble, let us all respond. Wherever a musician is in need, let us all respond. Wherever a negative image of the arts is produced, let us answer with a positive message of hope. As they hear our music, let them also hear our voices.
Let this serve as another "Call to Action" for our membership. What happens in Atlanta will affect us all. If we effectively respond to every Call to Action, we will demonstrate the power in collective action. We can and will make a powerful statement to our managements and boards as we work to spread the positive community message of the musicians of ICSOM.
Checks can be made out to: ASOPA
Please send the donations to:
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players' Association (ASOPA) 953 Rosedale Rd. NE Atlanta, Georgia 30306
Bruce Ridge, chair
International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM)