The 5/21/2016 edition of TechCrunch published an article by Devin Coldewy that reports on a speech given by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) about the gig economy (such as Uber, not musician related gigging) that touches on some remarkably familiar concepts inside the orchestra field.
Here’s an excerpt of Warren’s speech included in the TechCrunch article (emphasis added):
The gig economy didn’t invent any of these problems. In fact, the gig economy has become a stopgap for some workers who can’t make ends meet in a weak labor market. The much-touted virtues of flexibility, independence, and creativity offered by gig work might be true for some workers under some conditions, but for many, the gig economy is simply the next step in a losing effort to build some economic security in a world where all the benefits are floating to the top 10%.
Inside the orchestra field, the approach of spinning musician wage cuts as increased flexibility, independence, and creativity to pursue personal artistic projects is a Labor Dispute 101 tactic that has been a go-to employer talking point, especially since the 2008 economic downturn.
Nonetheless, it’s fascinating to see the issue become a mainstream talking point within the national arena. Watching major political figures like Warren criticize the cornerstone of employment schemes from companies like Uber with such polished language could have a ripple effect on the orchestra field.
Specifically, it will be interesting to see if musician employees will begin incorporating her vernacular and approach into their own dated strategies whenever these points surface during a future labor dispute.