Monday, March 18, 2013

SFS Strike: The Musicians Speak?

Picking up where I left off, the SFS musicians are still on strike, and today they put up a new...press release? statement? cri de coeur? 

I have no idea what to make of it. It certainly hints that there is more going on than either side has discussed in public ("concede work rule changes that would set back by decades the protections in the Musicians’ contract designed to ensure artistic excellence"), but it also says that management has asked for wage cuts. Information proffered by management indicates that the current offer includes an increase in base pay, so color me puzzled. 

I am also puzzled by the complaint about what SFS spent on the Centennial season. What, the musicians don't want great programming and challenging repertory that shows off just how great the orchestra is? To me, management's willingness to spend real money on a fantastic season is management's vote of confidence in MTT and the orchestra. If they really pulled in $32 million in new fundraising, why, the money spent on programming was well worth it.

I will own that I wouldn't mind seeing more financial detail from SFS, especially given that "operational deficit" is a weasel word, but it has always been their practice to release only audited financial information. That is prudent.

I am pro-labor, and I believe that musicians should be paid as the consummate pros that they are. However, an opaque and accusatory statement like this doesn't do the cause any good. I don't know who is editing these statements or advising the musicians, but people, you need better advice than you are getting on your written communications - unless, of course, you are trying to throw fat on the fire. Please don't do that; it reduces your credibility and makes you look bad to the public, whose sympathy I believe you want to earn. It is important to keep in mind that to the general public, being the third-most-highly-paid orchestra in the country looks pretty darned good, especially given how well-managed and financially strong SFS is.

Read the statement for yourself. Then read John Marcher's wicked dissection of the statement. Yeah, I'd say there's a problem when he and N***** L******* are in agreement. 

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