What Orchestra Musicians Might Learn From The Current UAW Strike

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How important is equal pay for equal work in today’s unionized orchestra environment? We examine this issue on a regular basis as it relates to substitute musicians, but the recent Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) work stoppage highlights a growing inequality at living wage orchestras between veteran and new-hire musicians by forcing the latter into a retirement program that provides markedly lower benefits. The impact on solidarity is self-apparent. In turn, degraded …

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Tim Smith Couldn’t Be More Right

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Veteran music critic and cultural reporter Tim Smith published an article at his personal blog on 7/29/2019 that examined the conspicuous silence from Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) music director Marin Alsop when it comes to the summer season squashing, gala gouging lockout. I think there’s one person who can cause a major shift in the BSO’s fate, the one person who stands to lose a heckuva lot (not just a hefty …

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Top-Tier Musician Compensation 2019

It’s time to revisit base musician compensation levels at the top eight highest paying orchestras. For a number of these orchestras, the 2018/19 season marks the end of their existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA). In each of those instances, the outcomes will have a large impact on what many orchestra musicians consider their organization’s ability to compete for the best on-stage talent. We’ve been tracking these values since the 2009/10 season …

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Negotiating Yourself Into A Corner

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The recent Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) strike is an excellent example of something that demonstrates how much the work stoppage PR landscape has shifted over the past decade. For example, one of the strongest musician talking points is the deleterious impact concessions have on an orchestra’s ability to attract and retain the very best artistic talent. This was a cornerstone of the CSO musician position: If the employer does away with …

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A Quick Follow-Up On The Chicago Symphony Settlement And Substitute Parity

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One item that remains unclear in the new Chicago Symphony Orchestra agreement is whether the new fiver-year contract modified any of the terms related to substitute musician compensation. I’ve been communicating with both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) and the musicians and so far, have received mildly differing accounts. According to CSOA Communications and Public Relations Officer, Eileen Chambers “per the terms of the new agreement, temporary or substitute musicians will …

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