Musician solidarity

February 26, 2011

Detroit–At the Detroit Symphony Orchestra strike, Oct. 4, 2010, I dreamed I saw Clifford Odets alive; I heard the clarion call. In 1935 I was an eight-year-old innocent barely able to play “Chopsticks.” The older folks went gaga over a Group Theater production. I caught the bug. We were all “Waiting for Lefty.”

Now it all comes back. My fellow musicians are waking up. On the surface it’s just toast and butter unionism on the part of Local 5 of the American Federation of Musicians: NO to a 33% wage cut and a 42% cut for new orchestra members. NO to changes in the work rules that would reduce the status of the players. Hardly class struggle commitment, but it’s a start.

There is support and solidarity from the community of musicians. On Oct. 24, 17 members of the Cleveland Orchestra came to Detroit to play a strike benefit concert. Money pours in from members of the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra and other orchestras.

We’re not ready to Rock the Cradle or to “Awake and Sing,” but give us time.

–Local 802 Member, American Federation of Musicians

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