clock strikes midnight: detroit calls strike

In response to the management of the Detroit Symphony imposing their “last, best offer”, the musicians have called a strike, set to begin on October 4th at 10:00 a.m.  Here’s the press release from the players:



DETROIT, Sept. 26—“The strike is on, effective Monday, October 4, and the musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and their families, along with the musicians’ union, the Detroit Federation of Musicians, Local 5 of the American Federation of Musicians, will start picketing at Orchestra Hall at 10 am,” cellist Haden McKay, speaking for the musicians, said today.

McKay also said that the musicians and the union have filed charges of unfair labor practices by management with the National Labor Relations Board.

“After continually refusing to negotiate, they claimed an impasse existed, enabling them to impose their last offer to the musicians.  That offer not only slashed salary and benefits 33%, it imposed many onerous changes in work rules that have nothing to do with cutting expenses but would seriously damage the quality of the orchestra.

“At a four-hour meeting convened Friday by three mediators, we indicated to the mediators that we would be willing to modify our position if we were told by management that they would be willing to do likewise. The mediators consulted with management and reported back that management was unwilling to make any changes to their position.

“Naturally, we were puzzled as to why management even agreed to this meeting if they were unwilling to negotiate. We were also puzzled by comments in the media by Anne Parsons, the DSO’s executive director, that management had offered to discuss changes to working conditions and other elements of their last proposal. No such comments were ever made to us or reported to us by the mediators.”

McKay said that management has advised the musicians that they will cancel all of the insurances under which the musicians are covered even though the musicians have offered to pay the premiums themselves. Those insurances include medical, dental, vision, life, long term disability, and instrument insurance.

They have also had their lawyers threaten to sue the musicians to prevent them from publicizing benefit concerts and from telling their side of the story on their website,

“We still hope that management will be willing to meet with us, work with us to arrive at a fair agreement, and thus avoid the strike,” McKay said.


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