Editorial: local AFL-CIO head says Detroit Symphony should accept musicians’ concessions

Posted on: October 21, 2010

In an opinion piece on the editorial page of Wednesday’s (10/20) Detroit News, Mark Gaffney, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, a federation of Michigan labor groups, expresses his view of the current strike at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, writing, “How would you like to take a 22 percent pay cut? What would that do to your family income? Your monthly bills? Union workers can be faced with this, because sometimes our employers overextend themselves. Our employers can contract for high mortgage payments that in this economy, the management cannot afford. In addition, employers have found that in a recession fewer customers mean less revenue. This is the current situation at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. So, in response, the union workers have negotiated a 22 percent decrease in wages, and they have also agreed that part of that reduction will be permanent. Then why is there currently a strike at our orchestra operations here in Detroit? Because the management wants 33 percent back from current employees. … I have been in a lot of negotiations and have seen a lot of concessions. I do not understand at all why management would rather have a strike than agree to a 22 percent employee wage cut. We have figured it out. This offer by the union musicians would save the DSO $4.5 million in the first year alone.”

Posted October 21, 2010