#634 – Dick Bernard: Supporting the Locked-out Minnesota Orchestra Musicians Union

Tonight we go to a special concert given by the locked out Minnesota Orchestra. The details of the concert are here.
You likely still have an opportunity to attend this concert.
At the very least, become aware of the issues in this most important attempt to break the back of a proud union of outstanding musicians.
Last week I submitted the below op ed to the Minneapolis Star Tribune which was declined for publication.
Stand with the Orchestra, and with union workers everywhere.
To the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
I’ll be keeping the Oct. 11 column by Jon Campbell and Richard E. Davis about the financial woes of the Orchestra (Orchestra Makes a Stand). Later they made sure we Minnesota Orchestra subscribers had a chance to see the column, through an e-mail.
We’re small fry within the MnOrch family, but regulars. This year as most always a six-concert series and perhaps an occasional additional performance. We’re the half-dollar customer versus the $1000 contributor (translation: $500 a year versus a $1,000,000 benefactor.)
Some years ago a docent who’s a friend happened to notice my ticket, and remarked we must’ve been orchestra fans for a long time – we had a relatively low subscriber number. The revelation surprised me.
But we’ve sat in row four behind the podium at Orchestra Hall for a long time. We were in the hall when guest conductor Itzhak Perlman took his scary (but still graceful) tumble off the platform; when Eije Oue led the Orchestra in the Star Spangled Banner in September 2001.
We saw the memorial rose on the vacant chair of the violinist who had died of cancer….
And now we see this failed negotiations where the Big People with the Purse are saying “enough is enough”.
Good fiddlers are a dime a dozen, after all.
I spent an entire career in and around negotiations as part of a union, so I have a strong sense of what goes on when there’s a labor conflict.
Both sides own their version of truth, and as Campbell and Davis are doing, management holds the financial hammer and thus, they will presume, control.
It is not quite so easy.
I find myself not terribly interested in exchanging my season tickets for other kinds of programs – we’ve got the e-mail and the phone call.
$500 is serious money to us, but I’m willing to take the hit in support of the musicians union.
At minimum that $500 for tickets translated into another $500 from us for Minneapolis business: eating, parking and the like. Every dollar counts.
For the Orchestra itself, the problem with we small fry is much longer term.
I’ve had season tickets for quite a number of years. Once you lose loyalty of customers like me, it is not easy to rebuild it.
And it is we little people who will sustain this operation in the long term, not the big benefactors who are carefully watching the return on investment in the Orchestra endowment.
For obvious reasons, my heart is with the musicians union.
I know there are two sides to every story, and Mr. Campbell and Mr. Davis articulate only their own very biased side.
Find a way to settle.

I sent this opinion on to the LoMoMo and received this response from a locked out Orchestra member serving a PR function for the Union. Speaking in support has real meaning. Consider sending your own letter of support, today.
You will get a another thank you from someone who is better at words than I…..but I wanted to let you know right away how wonderful your oped made me feel. I will send it to the entire Orchestra (we compile letters each week). You have been through so much with us…..thank you for your support. We are deeply grateful.
on behalf of
The PR Committee
Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra

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