At least, that’s what Robert Levine writes in response to the AFM poll results here from earlier this month (here and here) at his blog The AFM Observer. In addition to stating his own position, Levine hypothesizes “The real answer that most orchestra musicians would give to a question like ‘do you think you and your colleagues should leave the AFM,’ if given a realistic list of potential costs and benefits, would be ‘it depends.'”…
Levine, who is currently President of AFM Local 8 and principal violist of the Milwaukee Symphony along with holding titles like chairman emeritus of ICSOM (International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians) and former editor of that organization’s newsletter Senza Sordino, has certainly been around that part of the business. And I certainly agree that drilling down into that type of additional detail is worthwhile but whether or not that’s an appropriate starting point is arguable.
Providing a reliable list of realistic potential costs and benefits would be a sizeable task and it makes sense to figure out whether or not the effort is worth the trouble by constructing a less complex introductory set of questions. Consequently, those results would dictate whether or not additional effort and exploration is needed.
Levine also presented a few questions about the survey which I’m happy to answer:
Online polls are entertaining. But, as polls, they tend to suffer from inherent methodological issues, chief amongst them that the respondees are 1) self-selected; and 2) not necessarily unique individuals. Thus the results can easily be stacked by someone from outside who is determined to do so.
I didn’t take Drew’s poll, so I can’t testify about its robustness in the face of these two issues.
The poll asked respondents to select up to three responses from the following list:
- Orchestra musicians should REMAIN in the AFM and accept whatever decisions their elected leaders make.
- Orchestra musicians should REMAIN in the AFM and work within the existing system to bring about changes they want.
- Orchestra musicians should REMAIN in the AFM only if they are guaranteed substantially increased levels of self determination within the Federation.
- Orchestra musicians should LEAVE the AFM and not be unionized at all.
- Orchestra musicians should LEAVE the AFM and form their own national union.
- Orchestra musicians should LEAVE the AFM and join IGSOBM (International Guild Of Symphony, Opera And Ballet Musicians).
- Not certain
From those options, the three which garnered the most single votes were three, four, and five. Moreover, among respondents who selected more than one option, those were the three most popular combinations. It’s worth pointing out that orchestra musicians comprise about 1/3 of Adaptistration’s regular readership so there’s no reason to assume that musicians voted in the poll than any other stakeholder group (I have yet to encounter a manager without an opinion on the matter). Levine goes on to write:
I was, however, struck by the “unusually large spike in responses” which “shifted the response ratios quite a bit.” I wonder if someone from IGSOBM decided to play some head games with the AFM? Certainly the jump in positive responses to the question “should musicians leave the AFM for IGSOBM” might suggest so.
There’s no evidence of that. The poll uses IP address tracking to limit responses to a single IP address, so it becomes rather difficult for any one respondent to submit multiple sets of responses. It isn’t impossible but really, who wants to go to the trouble to manually reset an IP address or run around to a dozen public libraries in order to vote in this poll? To that end, with regard to Levine’s curiosity about IGSOBM shenanigans, I can say that based on the IP addresses associated with the spikes, nothing indicates a weighted response from Seattle based locations.
Frankly, I don’t get the animosity between some within the AFM and IGSOBM. Every time I hear one side demonize the other all I can think of is this Bart Simpson quote on religion: “The little stupid differences are nothing next to the big stupid similarities!” Then I wonder if anyone embroiled in the conflict has ever heard of reunification and the process therein that helps bring people together as opposed to keeping them apart.
Perhaps I think too much.