Monday, July 15, 2013

Public Action for the Minnesota Orchestra

The tone of the labor dispute between the MN Orchestra musicians and the MOA Board and executive management seemed to change last week.  Gone was the vitriol against the musicians usually included in the MOA's press releases.  Graydon Royce at the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the two sides have been meeting with a mediator, engineered behind the scenes by Governor Mark Dayton.  Will this be the beginning of the end?

Minnesota Orchestra in Orchestra Hall

At this point, it's just wait and see.  I cannot allow hope to set up camp in Peavey Plaza or in my own mind until there's something more concrete to justify it.  It's still too early for hope.

On the other hand, Emily Hogstad at Song of the Lark has encouraged anyone who cares about the MN Orchestra and wants the MOA Board and executive management to know how they feel and what they think of the Orchestra Hall renovation to picket Orchestra Hall.  It's a call to public action for patrons, music students, and anyone else who considers him/herself as a community stakeholder.  If you're interested in doing some picketing, let Emily know.

Picketing rentals at Orchestra Hall is only one way to express what you think and/or feel about the labor dispute.  You can write letters to Jon Campbell at Wells Fargo Bank in downtown Minneapolis, Richard Davis at U.S. Bank in downtown Minneapolis, or Michael Henson at the MOA in downtown Minneapolis.  They are Chairman of the Board, head of the Board's negotiating committee, and President/CEO respectively.  We've seen just how divisive and frustrating vitriol can be, so I strongly suggest writing letters that are exemplary examples of respect and focus on the issue and not the people. 

If you choose to e-mail the above men, treat the e-mail as a business letter.  I doubt phone calls will make it through, but that doesn't mean they're not worth trying.  There are the signs that picketers hold, also, if you choose to picket.  Short and clear messages focused on the issue work best.  If you have a talent for pithy or humorous comments, they can sometimes cut through the clutter to make the important points.

I've heard of people who have donated to the MN Orchestra in the past, but they are hesitant to donate now.  Withholding donations is another way to express your disagreement with MOA management's actions.  I would suggest setting aside the money, though, for a future donation after the dust settles.  The Orchestra will need strong financial support from the community to get back on its feet again.

MOA management chose a rigid, adversarial approach to the contract negotiations with the orchestra musicians.  Their strategy did not allow for dissent, disagreement, or listening to the general public.  They have deleted messages on their Facebook page going back to October 1, 2012.  They have not been open to listening to what other people have to say, ideas for resolving the labor dispute, or complaints about the way they've treated the musicians.  Are they ready to change their strategy?  Will they work with a mediator with the same commitment they've shown to their rigid, adversarial approach?

We'll have to wait and see.....

No comments: