Photo Flash: Local 802 Musicians Rally, Perform in Solidarity with Striking Chicago Symphony Musicians
Over 150 musicians stood together at Dante Park, directly across from Lincoln Center, to demonstrate solidarity with their colleagues on strike at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. A group of thirty brass musicians from the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and the New York City Ballet performed, conducted by Joseph Alessi, Principal Trombone of the New York Philharmonic. The Local 802 AFM musicians spanned every genre from Broadway to classical to indie, and the musicians were joined by their fellow union members from Actors' Equity, American Guild of Musical Artists, IATSE Local One, IATSE Local 764, the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, SAG-AFTRA NY, and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.
Emma Gerstein, flutist at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, spoke about the issues of the ongoing strike and thanked the crowd for their support. Metropolitan Opera clarinetist Jessica Phillips, New York Philharmonic violinist Fiona Simon, and New York City Ballet harpist Sara Cutler all spoke in support of their Chicago Symphony colleagues, and encouraged the crowd to donate to the Chicago Symphony strike fund at www.chicagosymphonymusicians.com. New York City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6) and a representative from the office of State Senator Brad Hoylman (Manhattan, District 27) also spoke in support of the striking musicians.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians have been on strike since March 10 to protect their pension benefits and regain parity to other leading orchestras across the nation. Just like our own storied institutions housed at Lincoln Center, the Chicago Symphony has sizeable assets - in the CSO's case, over half a billion dollars. They are enjoying ever-increasing ticket revenue and donations to the orchestra. Management is more than capable of managing its pension liabilities without shifting all the risk onto musicians.
The Chicago Symphony is one of the top orchestras in the world because of the tireless work and talent of the musicians- and they deserve a salary and benefits package that reflects their artistry and hard work. The board of the CSO needs to do the right thing and pay the musicians a fair wage and provide them with a decent retirement.
"Musicians enrich the communities where they work, whether it's in schools, concert halls, opera houses, clubs or bars, or on Broadway. All musicians ask for in return is a chance to make a fair living and a decent retirement," said Adam Krauthamer, President of Local 802 AFM. "The Associated Musicians of Greater New York, which is the largest union of musicians in the world, will be at Lincoln Center on Friday demanding that our colleagues in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra receive the fair wages and pension they deserve."
"In Chicago, we are fighting for fair wages and retirement benefits that ensure the well-being of our members and the future of the orchestra-in fact, all orchestras. No orchestra or musician should be at
the mercy of the stock market or the capricious decisions of a Board," said Emma Gerstein, Flutist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. "All of us have devoted our lives to our orchestras, our fellow musicians, and our public-and every day we honor and strive to fill those commitments. All we ask in return is the same respect, the same embrace, the same commitment to us. From the action taken by New York musicians today in solidarity with Chicago musicians, we see that the issues of this strike- fair payment and pension-are critical to the future of the CSO and every orchestra throughout the nation. We only hope that the CSO Association understands and makes the decision that preserves our well-being and the future of the Orchestra in Chicago."
"I proudly join Local 802 members in standing in solidarity with the striking musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. As the old adage goes, 'an injury to one is an injury to all.' Despite record accumulations of wealth for the elite of this country, working people continue to see stagnant salaries and the erosion of their retirement funds and other benefits. This is unacceptable for the wonderful musicians at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and for all American workers. The CSO should lead by example and provide a decent retirement and salaries comparable to those in other leading orchestras," said New York City Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6).
About Local 802, AFM The Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 American Federation of Musicians represents over 7,500 highly-skilled musicians who drive New York City's thriving cultural and tourism economy, which brings over 58 million visitors each year. Its members - who perform on Broadway, at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and Radio City, on late night TV shows and in other televised bands, as well as in hotels, clubs, festivals and venues across NYC - are protected by collective bargaining agreements ensuring proper classification, fair treatment and a living wage. www.local802afm.org
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