"It was a very difficult, gut-wrenching decision. Something we would have thought was un-thinkable a week ago today. They are trying to extend the hand of friendship in an effort to end the strike under the conditions management had previously imposed."
On today's Artpod, we'll look at what kind of role social media played during the five month labor dispute between the two sides.
As the fight between Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and musicians drags on for the fourth month, another fight of sorts is playing out on facebook.
Before the strike vs. now
The DSO facebook fan page used to function like a typical fan page - stories about visiting conductors, upcoming concerts, and news about the orchestra’s Tiny Tots series.
But as the strike progressed, management has turned the DSO facebook fan page into a strike-update page, posting about negotiations and contract proposals.(The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians have their own facebook page and post their viewpoints there.)
Some, like DSO Executive director Anne Parsons, describe the DSO facebook fan page as "a pretty active place to be." DSO conductor Leonard Slatkin commented on the page's level of "vitriol" at one point in a Detroit News Article.
Detroit rap star Eminem, who was nominated for a record 10 Grammy Awards, took home two top honors: Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Album. Brother and sister duo BeBe & CeCe Winans won Best Gospel Performance for their song "Grace." Best Classical Contemporary Composition and Best Orchestral Performance went to University of Michigan composition professor Michael Daugherty for his piece, "Deus Ex Machina."
You can find the complete list of Grammy Award winners here.
Fifty-two years ago today, a plane crashed in a cornfield outside Mason city, Iowa, killing three musicians, including Buddy Holly.
An article from WLFI in Lafayette, Indiana, sets up the story:
Three up and coming musicians were on what was called “The Winter Dance Party” tour through the Midwest. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were all about fed up with the tour bus that kept breaking down, the cold weather that had already sent Holly’s drummer to the hospital with frostbite and the long distances between shows.
Holly's frustration with the tour led him to charter a plane to carry the three musicians to the next stop. The plane crashed, killing the musicians as well as the pilot, Roger Peterson.
Gibson.com has this analysis of the legacy of the three rockers, in particular Holly:
Valens and The Big Bopper would be immortalized by the tragedy, while Buddy Holly is still revered as one of the greatest-ever talents in popular music. As Paul McCartney, someone who knows a thing or two about a good tune, once remarked: “At least the first 40 [Beatles] songs we wrote were Buddy Holly-influenced.”
Holly's enduring influence is even more amazing considering his real success lasted less than two years, but with hits like “Peggy Sue” and “Everyday,” it's not hard to see—or hear—why.
Check out this short but sweet clip of Holly performing in Grand Rapids in 1958:
DSO management and the musicians have submitted new proposals to a federal mediator. Both sides’ proposals revolve around a $36 million compensation package. That dollar amount roughly splits the difference between the two sides’ previous proposals and was suggested by U.S. Senator Carl Levin and then Governor Jennifer Granholm last month.
DSO management wrote to us saying the information provided below regarding the DSO contract proposal was dated. We've updated the copy to clarify that this was one of management's original proposals.
Update 6:45 p.m.:
At today's press conference, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians urged management to return to the bargaining table. They say the strike is hurting area businesses, especially restaurants.
David Zainea co-owns the Majestic Cafe in Midtown, and he says business has taken a big hit since the musicians went on strike Oct. 4:
"We’re down almost 25% in the course of three months."
The musicians said they wanted to use the suggested proposal U.S. Senator Carl Levin and then-governor Jennifer Granholm had issued as a roadmap.
That proposal called for a $36 million, 3-year contract that would require sacrifice from both sides.
DSO management issued a statement this afternoon saying they would submit a proposal to the federal mediator "detailing how it would spend $36 million over three years once it secures additional, sustainable funding that would both close the gap between its position and the union's and support the enhanced communal and educational activities that are now even more important for the orchestra to revive and thrive."
DSO board chair Stanley Frankel had originally said he took the Granholm-Levin recommendation seriously, but:
"A $36 million compensation package is beyond what every consultant and our Board have said is feasible."
Detroit Symphony Orchestra management issued this statement in response to the joint letter issued earlier today by Governor Granholm and Senator Levin:
We appreciate Senator Levin and Governor Granholm’s commitment to the DSO and their personal time and effort to assist in finding a resolution to the ongoing dispute between the DSO and its musicians. We take their recommendations very seriously.
A $36 million compensation package is beyond what every consultant and our Board have said is feasible. In order to fund our current proposal, we have already cut our staff and operations severely and pushed our revenue expectations beyond every advisor’s recommendations. Even with these dramatic cuts and ambitious goals, the DSO will continue to operate in a deficit position.
We all want and need this strike to end with a mutually acceptable package and we stand ready to return to the bargaining table to pursue an agreement. We appreciate the constructive offer of a framework within which this agreement might be reached and look forward to the continued engagement and support of community leadership as we pursue our goals.
Granholm and Levin's proposal called for a 3-year deal that would cost a total of $36 million. (Management's most recent proposal totaled $34 million, the musicians countered with a roughly $38 million proposal.)
Andy Levin is the Governor’s representative. He says both Granholm and Sen. Levin hoped that they "could get the parties across the finish line to a collective bargaining agreement by making a suggestion about a difficult compromise."
The orchestra on Monday announced that the Home for the Holidays concerts scheduled for Thursday through Sunday as well as a December 21st concert featuring Canadian Brass had been cancelled. A Manhattan Transfer Christmas concert at Orchestra Hall still is scheduled for Tuesday night.
The DSO musicians have been on strike since October 4th due to a dispute over pay cuts with the DSO management. Last week, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra reported a $6.7 million budget shortfall for the 2010 fiscal year.
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra posted a $6.7 million budget shortfall for the 2010 fiscal year. Add to that the roughly $2 million the DSO spent on pension obligations and debt service on the Max M Fisher Music Center, and the total operating loss for the orchestra is $8.8 million.
The musicians have been on strike since October. The management is standing firm against the demands of the musicians. Holiday concerts have been cancelled, and now the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Executive Board is weighing in.
In a letter to the community released today, DSO executive board members said they were "joined at the hip" with management during this strike. The 24 board members said,
"A relative of Aretha Franklin tells reporter Al Allen that the icon has cancer. Another relative says the family is very concerned. At this time Franklin's family says she is doing "OK", but they are asking for the continued prayers and thoughts from the community."
Aretha Franklin underwent surgery in Detroit last Thursday. Neither she nor her publicist would say what kind of surgery Franklin was going in for or the nature of the illness.
Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow, and it's a time to reflect on what we're all thankful for this year.
Actor and Musician Jeff Daniels stopped by the Michigan Radio studios this week to talk about why he calls Michigan home, the importance of the arts in the state and what he is thankful for. His answer might surprise you.