Union jobs are great, but try to pick the right union

Continuing the Happy Labor Day theme…

At a social gathering that included musicians from America’s top symphony orchestras, I learned from a Los Angeles Philharmonic member that Gustavo Dudamel‘s star power is earned (“he’s inspiring”), though Esa-Pekka Salonen was more technically accomplished. A New York Philharmonic member described a project in which the 160 union musicians received “slightly less” total cash than the 5 stagehands required. (The stagehands set up the chairs, music stands, etc.) “The senior stagehands make $550,000 a year,” he explained.

Were the musicians envious of the stagehands’ higher compensation? No. “They should get as much as they can,” said one. The musicians did not see themselves as being in competition with the stagehands for slices of their orchestras’  total income (ticket revenue, charitable donations, etc.).

3 thoughts on “Union jobs are great, but try to pick the right union

  1. Their attitude makes sense insofar as orchestras are not seen as businesses and are (especially in the modern age) money losers subsidized by some combination of private donations and public tax $. Once a business no longer has to worry about making a profit, each worker constituency is free to make unlimited demands – since the math doesn’t add up, it hardly makes a difference how BADLY the math does not add up – you just get more from your sugar daddies.

  2. I think this is capitalist guilt of orchestra performers towards proletarian chair pushers, triggered by reading NYT.

Comments are closed.