Friday, September 12, 2014

One Flag: Doing This TOGETHER . . .

Dear Colleagues and Friends of the ASO & Chorus, and beyond . . .

Many of you have read my letter to Mr. Romanstein written during the 2012 collective bargaining period that resulted in the reduction in salary of $14,000 per musician per year in salary cuts, the increase in the players' health insurance premiums, the reduction of the symphony year from 52 to 42 weeks, and the reduction the number of full-time symphony players from a complement of 95 to a mere 88.

Even when I wrote the letter, hoping that the negotiators were acting in good faith, I knew it was a stretch to believe that all sides could work together to resolve the differences between them. Even then, I was repulsed by the bullying tactic that Mr. Romanstein, the ASO, and the WAC were using to coerce the players to accept their terms-- cessation of the players' salaries and health coverage, and lockout from their workplace. It was appalling even then. But I held out hope.

Two years have passed as the players have professionally, committedly, and sacrificially provided us all with two more years of magic, of beauty, and grace.

And with at least 8 months of premeditation, the ASO board, the Woodruff board, and Stanley Romanstein have repeated the quietly violent, coercive, misuse of power against the musicians and their families--lockout. They have ignored a request from the players to continue talking while the music goes on. They have deflected the firm admonishment of our irreplaceable, internationally-acclaimed, artistic/musical leadership: Robert Spano and Donald Runnicles.

I wrote this letter in 2012 to raise a flag for the sanctity of the art that we as musicians and audiences, donors and support-workers revere, for the legacy of Robert Shaw, and for the hope that we could find a way to work together to sustain and nurture the life of our beloved, world-class symphony orchestra and its cherished musicians.

It is evident that the Woodruff board, the ASO board, and Stanley Romanstein for at least two years have demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate as long as the lockout continues, that they are not a part of "TOGETHER."

They judge themselves by their own words and mendacity. They judge themselves by their own actions and inactions.

They have torn down the flag, trampled it, and pissed on it.

So, please do not misunderstand my re-posting of my letter from 2012. Unless they act swiftly to stop the lockout and repair the damage they have perpetrated, my 2012 letter no longer refers to them.

But what the rest of us do, we must do now, and we must do TOGETHER.

Andrew H. Gee
ASO Chorus
Bass II #116
Re-posted from 2012 during the waning hours of collective bargaining that resulted in a lockout of the ASO Symphony players by ASO management, followed about a month later by an agreement that included draconian cuts in the size of the orchestra, the length of the symphony season, and musician's salary and benefits.

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