The lockout of the musicians is quite disconcerting to me as a member of the ASOC. It truly amazes me how something as wonderful and beautiful as music can have such ugliness surround it. Music has the ability to reach the depths of people’s souls that no words could ever penetrate. Music also heals as well as staves off illness. It also has a way of effecting animals in ways we cannot entirely explain. Yet we, humankind, still find a way to sully it.
This lockout seems to have a great deal of issues surrounding it that cause me so much concern. The biggest one is the bonuses that have been given to the executives of this non-profit organization , during a “nonprofitable year.”
At the top of the form provided from a website called "Song of the Lark", which printed out the 990's of the ASO, one can see that t he amount of these bonuses of this non-profit organization are more than some individuals make for their entire annual salary. The first table that was provided was for 2010. The other table was for 2012. I would like to know how they justified these bonuses in good conscience while they asked the musicians to cut their salaries.
I do not understand how the organization called the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra intends to continue without its musicians. They are kind of the lifeblood of the organization. It is like a mining company blocking all the miners from entering a mine and expect to be profitable. But it seems that a lot of companies are run this way that the actual producers of the company tend to be at the mercy of the ones who sit behind a desk.
It is my understanding that the ASO management hired a mediator last year in preparation for this dispute. That feels extremely “hinky” if this is true, and quite underhanded. Why prepare to dispute, why not prepare to avoid the dispute?
As listed on the website provided by ASO, it seems to me one of the concerns is health care. The dramatic increase in the percentage of what the musician is asked to pay for their healthcare seems quite extreme. To go from 2.5% to 23% is huge. To say that it is just what everyone else is doing is trivializing the drastic change they are asking of the musicians. I am not saying an increase in the amount of what they need to pay is not necessary, but the approach and the amount might need to be re-evaluated.
I really do not know a lot about what is really going on with these disputes except what I hear, and what I hear hurts my soul. I love to sing for the Chorus. Music lifts my spirit. We, the Chorus, dedicate our services on a volunteer basis to the organization. We come from our 40+ hour jobs, families, and homes to sing with these fine musicians whom we love. We do not ask to be paid, but we do ask to be respected and heard by the organization.
Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.
(Sent to Stanley Romenstein and Virginia Hepner)