Surprisingly, I’m a Union guy now. I’ve never really been a fan of Unions, but I view them as a necessary element in many work environments, including the world of professional orchestras. Everyone likes to view musicians as doing it “for the love it” and that we’d just as soon stand on a street corner tooting our horns to passersby because we so desperately want to share our love of music. I always recall one occasion where a Home and Garden Show was going outside our usual venue and I went by a display of lawn and garden tools. A bubbly woman said, “Oh look! Here comes the band! Play us a tune! Tehehe!” I bit my tongue, though I wanted to say, “Oh look! You sell rakes! Come home with me and rake my leaves!”
In Jacksonville, FL, the musicians have been in a lockout for six weeks, and it’s gotten really, really ugly. The board is towing a hard line and is willing to push the musicians as long as they can with the assumption that they will break them. An email that one of the board members sent internally was recently made public, and I’m steaming mad at how diabolical it is.
The following is from a musician press release that quotes an email written by a local Wachovia Bank executive. He refers to the remaining "$x" issue which refers to the musicians' insistence that they will not accept any cuts.
In the email addressing the Board's ongoing lockout of the symphony musicians, Mr. Beames stated, "I think we may start to see some crack in the dyke [sic] on this 'only $x' issue, and the heartstrings of kids at Christmas with no presents certainly will have an impact."
Unconscionable. This man probably earns six times the average income of one of those musicians. What gall.