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AFM Denounces Detroit Symphony Orchestra Management's Plans to Create New Orchestra


February 22, 2011 - NEW YORK, NY

Following action taken last weekend to suspend the remainder of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) season, DSO management has announced that it plans to create a new orchestra in Detroit. Current DSO members would be eligible to play in the new orchestra only if they were to accept unilateral terms, which are now harsher than those outlined in the proposed contract that was overwhelmingly rejected by musicians last week. DSO management's commitment to staff the new orchestra with professional musicians rings hollow, given that nearly all professional orchestral musicians stand in solidarity as members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). The new orchestra would therefore have to be made up largely of amateur musicians.

"The DSO's threat to hire amateur replacements reveals the business model that management wanted all along. It is part of a larger plan to impose unjustified concessions on professional musicians to adversely reshape their lives, not just in Detroit, but everywhere," says AFM President Ray Hair. "The American Federation of Musicians will not grovel to these union busters. We will take comfort in the power of our music. We will never surrender."

Management has flatly stated that no further negotiations will take place, but DSO musicians are convinced that a settlement of the 20-week-old strike could still be reached, if only management would allow musicians to have a say in how funds are allocated. A sticking point in negotiations has been how much money would go toward the orchestra's community engagement projects, versus musicians' base pay. Musicians point out that, while management has been discussing a new model for community engagement, they have been living it for four months, performing self-produced concerts in schools, churches, and other community venues.

ICSOM Chairman Bruce Ridge adds, "The musicians of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) once again urge the management and board of the DSO to resist engaging in negative and injurious rhetoric, and we further urge them to return to negotiations so that an agreement can be reached quickly."

A donation to the DSO Members Fund will enable the DSO musicians to continue to take a stand for their art form, and will resound nationwide. Checks should be made out to DSO Members Fund and mailed to: DSO Members Fund; C/O Susan Barna Ayoub, Secretary-Treasurer; Detroit Federation of Musicians; 20833 Southfield Rd.; Detroit, MI 48075. More information on the DSO strike is available at www.detroitsymphonymusicians.org.

ABOUT THE AFM
Founded in 1896, the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM), AFL-CIO, is the largest organization in the world dedicated to representing the interests of professional musicians. With more than 90,000 members, the AFM represents all types of professional musicians, including those who record music for sound recordings, film scores, videogames, radio, television and commercial announcements, as well as perform music of every genre in every sort of venue from small jazz clubs to symphony orchestra halls to major stadiums. Whether negotiating fair agreements, protecting ownership of recorded music, securing benefits such as health care and pension, or lobbying legislators, the AFM is committed to raising industry standards and placing the professional musician in the foreground of the cultural landscape.

For more information, contact the main number at (212) 869-1330 or visit the Web site at www.afm.org.

Follow the AFM on Twitter www.twitter.com/musiciansunion and Facebook www.facebook.com/afm.org.

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