Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I have stayed out of the discussions about the strike going on at the San Francisco Symphony.  I sang for a short time as a paid member of the chorus there and view it more on the musicians' side.  There have been a lot of stupid things both said and done.

The managing board of the symphony seems to have mistaken itself for a normal corporation.  A corporation exists for the sake of the stock holders and board members.  They could expect to pay themselves whatever they can get away with and fire everyone should they choose.

A brief reality check.  So far as I am aware if you are not the government, you may not legally disband a union.  If they were no longer there as employees, they would still be there as union reps.  Does that form a picture for you?  It doesn't for me.  All the major orchestras are unionized.  There aren't really qualified players who would be willing to be scabs in this context.  They would basically be committing professional suicide.  Firing the orchestra means killing the symphony.  Don't get me wrong--I don't think anyone involved in the current labor/management difficulties has suggested this.  It's just stupid know nothing writers.

The board of a symphony exists for the sake of the community and the players.  The very last group of people it exists for is the board itself.  They made a special point of first giving themselves raises and then announcing that they intended to lower the musicians pay.  In that order.  Take nose--rub vigorously in.  If I were to randomly pick a group to fire and replace by oh let's say 100%, that group would be the management.  Did it occur to no one to postpone the management raises until after the player contract was signed?  This all by itself would seem to be indicative of extreme stupidity.

It is very hard to be a professional musician on the level of orchestras like San Francisco and Chicago.  The people good enough to play in these orchestras already play in them.  One writer compared it to playing an instrument in high school.  If you seriously believe that, you should be embarrassed to say it out loud.  Hint--it means you are an idiot.

I don't know how much they should make.  I know I live here because I can't afford to live there.  I hope that the people actually involved in the negotiations are a bit smarter than it would seem from the things I am reading.

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