Show your support: Stand with the Musicians

March 26, 2009 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Support | Leave a comment

The WCO Musicians will be holding an information picket followed by a march on the Wisconsin State Capitol. Come stand with us in solidarity.

Where: 321 E. Main, Madison
When: 3pm Friday, March 27, 2009
What you need: The urge to support the arts in Madison.


Thomas F. Lee: WCO’s musicians deserve your support

February 20, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Posted in Support | Leave a comment

courtesy of the Capital Times, 2/15/09:

Dear Editor:

On behalf of the tens of thousands of American Federation of Musicians members across North America, I am writing to express support for the dedicated musicians of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

Unfortunately, the orchestra’s management is embarking on an approach that hurts the orchestra, the musicians and the greater Madison community by canceling the Feb. 27 concert and insisting on the reopening of talks on issues that have already been agreed to by both sides of the negotiating table. Musicians and their negotiating committee have spent countless hours and significant resources in order to come to an agreement with management on many of the issues.

The musicians care deeply about the orchestra and the arts community in Madison. Performing in the orchestra is more than just a job — it’s a passion and an honor as a service to the people of Wisconsin. Orchestras generate income for cities, help to attract new businesses, create more vibrant and attractive communities, and help to inspire future generations to explore classical music.

By seeking to undo all the work accomplished so far in the negotiations and to cancel the next concert, management is taking a giant step backward.

I encourage everyone to support the orchestra’s musicians and help to keep the orchestra strong as a staple of Madison life. The musicians are a terrific group of exceptional artists and deserve the support of all in the community.

Thomas F. Lee, president

American Federation of Musicians

New York, N.Y.

Orchestra negotiations must resume and result in fair contract

February 11, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Support | Leave a comment

A letter to the Captial Times from ROPA President,
Carla Lehmeier-Tatum — 2/09/2009

Dear Editor: The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra is an outstanding orchestra and a community asset. The strength of WCO is currently threatened by short-sighted actions of the WCO board of directors and management in the course of negotiations with their musicians.

I am writing on behalf of the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) to urge the community to support its musicians and encourage the board of directors to continue the current contract negotiations with the spirit of compromise and quick resolution. ROPA represents 5,000 musicians in 77 American orchestras. Continue Reading Orchestra negotiations must resume and result in fair contract…

Letter from AFM President Thomas Lee

October 23, 2008 at 10:49 am | Posted in Support | Leave a comment

AFM President Thomas Lee

AFM President Thomas F. Lee

October 17, 2008

Doug Gerhart, Executive Director
Thomas Grantham, Chairperson
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
321 East Main Street
P.O. Box 171
Madison, WI 53703-0171

Dear Mr. Gerhart and Mr. Grantham:

On behalf of the tens of thousands of members of the American Federation of Musicians, I am writing to urge the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Board to reconsider the approach that it has taken with the WCO musicians and to come to a reasonable accord on a new contract.

The WCO musicians have developed a reputation of having a strong commitment to the WCO, its audience, and the community at large. These highly skilled musicians are among the best in the region, yet their wages are extremely humble at only $10,000-$15,000 a year.

Given this reality, it is distressing to see the WCO insist on attendance requirements that would make it impossible for these musicians to fulfill their other employment obligations. It is the norm for orchestras in the rest of the country to provide the flexibility for musicians to make a living from multiple employers. Those orchestras understand that musicians need that additional income to survive.

This is just one of the issues in contention but is the one that has the most potentially devastating impact on the musicians. These musicians have long enjoyed a terrific relationship with management and are some of the most dedicated symphony musicians in the world. they are reasonable and are willing to reach an agreement that is fair to all parties; however, their right to earn additional income so that they can provide for themselves and their families must not be infringed upon.


Thomas F. Lee

Letter from ICSOM Chairman Bruce Ridge

October 23, 2008 at 10:48 am | Posted in Support | Leave a comment

Bruce Ridge

Bruce Ridge

Mr. Doug Gerhart, Executive Director
Mr. Thomas Grantham, Board Chairperson
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra

Bruce Ridge,
Chair, International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM)

October 12, 2008

Dear Mr. Gerhart and Mr. Grantham:

The musicians of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) and indeed artists all across the country have been following the recent events that surround the negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (WCO).

The musicians of the WCO have the absolute support of musicians across the country. It is critically important that you, as stewards of the community, quickly reach an agreement that will allow the WCO to return to the stage and to its mission of community service. Your musicians’ positions are reasonable and industry standard, and offer the best hope for a strong future.

The WCO is a great jewel for the city of Madison, and business leaders and artists across America will be closely monitoring the situation.

Studies have shown that the economic impact of the arts industry in Wisconsin surpasses $418 million and provides over 15,000 jobs. Wisconsin’s Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton has been quoted as saying: “Across Wisconsin, the arts and culture industry does mean business. Investment in the arts is just that—an investment in organizations that generate revenue and employ thousands, and an investment in the vitality of a community. Investment in the arts is capital ventured to intensify an area’s magnetic pull for new economic opportunity.”

Along with my 4,000 colleagues in ICSOM orchestras, I ask you to invest in your community and the future of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra by positively addressing the concerns of the musicians. I urge you to agree to the terms requested by the musicians. By agreeing to the these reasonable requests, you can ensure the bright future for the WCO that the citizens of Madison desire and deserve.

Bruce Ridge
Chairman, International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM)

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