[Editor’s Note: This is not a local story. This press release appeared in my inbox, and I was moved to share it. With funding for the arts getting tighter and tighter, and professional musicians struggling more than ever to make a living with their craft, I personally shared AFM’s disappointment with Stanley Romanstein’s actions, and I was compelled to share this story. – John Faulkner]
New York, NY — American Federation of Musicians International President Ray Hair took aim at Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) CEO Stanley Romanstein today after a second lockout within two years was imposed on musicians at midnight Saturday, Sept. 6.
“Stanley Romanstein has again resorted to starvation as a weapon in his quest to extract unjustified concessions from his employees, all to pay for his failure to manage one of America’s leading orchestras,” Hair said. “Romanstein’s starve-out tactics are an indication of his inability to lead the institution. He also knows the orchestra would never voluntarily bow to his reckless and regressive demands to cover the company’s self-inflicted wounds.”
The orchestra’s musicians bailed out company finances and ended a management-imposed lockout two years ago by accepting pay cuts of more than 14 percent and agreeing to reduce the size of the orchestra. In the current round of contract talks, management has demanded the right to unilaterally change any aspect of the musicians’ health plan, at any time. Another management demand would eliminate the minimum number of musicians required to produce quality performances, allowing Romanstein to shrink the orchestra to whatever size he wants – down to 60, 50, or 35 players, exposing musicians to unilateral change in employment terms at any time.
“By attempting to establish a feudal system, which would destroy the lives of musicians who have done nothing but bring joy to the community, Romanstein is threatening to destroy the institution itself,” Hair said. “I doubt that citizens of Atlanta would want that to happen.”
The 2014-15 ASO season had been promoted as a celebration of its 70th anniversary.