Today’s letter is from Julie Gramolini, oboist with the Minnesota Orchestra. Her husband Greg is Associate Principal Clarinet with the orchestra.
It has been one year since the Minnesota Orchestra management and board has locked out the musicians. One year that my husband, Greg, (associate principal clarinet) and I have had no salary and no health care. Many of my colleagues are elsewhere playing in other orchestras and I am sure more will leave as opportunities arise. In addition, today our music director, Osmo Vanska, resigned. These are sad times. The musicians remain unified in our fight to keep a major orchestra here in Minneapolis but I am not convinced this is what MOA wants. They seem happy to let us starve while management continues to collect their paychecks and the board tosses us aside as nothing more than a fleeting thought in their lives. Shame on them for their pigheadedness and the lies they generate through the media to confuse the public!
On Monday, the musicians negotiating committee presented two different offers to MOA. The MOA caucused for and hour and a half then they returned to their seats across from the musicians. They quickly announced that we are too far apart and they walked out. Minutes later, it was announced that management cancelled the Carnegie Hall concerts. There were 14 hours remaining in that day. Plenty of time to get back to the table and make a counter offer to the musicians. Instead, we heard nothing from MOA, midnight arrived and we lost our music director. This is a clear display that they don’t care about this organization as it stands…or as it stood.
For those who do not know, the MOA’s law firm is the same firm that represented American Crystal Sugar during its deadly lockout of Union workers at its Moorhead plant. That Lockout lasted well in excess of a year; the union was decimated; many of the workers left for other jobs…this is the same formula they are using against the musicians. Starvation. Pain purposefully inflicted on the musicians as well as their families. Most of the musicians moved to Minnesota for this job. We set up our lives based on the salaries and trusted that the board and management would do their job of maintaining and caring for this organization and moving it in a forward, uphill direction. The musicians commitment is to working hard on and off the stage to deliver an amazing product here at home as well as around the world. The musicians have delivered our side of the deal….our Grammy nominations, our praise-full concert reviews, our Carnegie Hall engagements, our Proms Festival invitations, etc etc etc, are all examples of this. Osmo Vanska upheld his commitment to leading this orchestra to greatness over these last 10 years. Minnesota Orchestra’s management and board have not done their part. Instead, they ruined this orchestra without even flinching. It takes years to build and seconds to destroy. Even with whatever kind of contract in place in the future, there is no trust left. How can we believe MOA won’t further destroy this organization in the future? What the hell is their motive to destroy what we worked so hard to achieve?
Greg and I have each other to lean on and I am thankful for his support, strength and love during this time (and for as long as we have been together – I love you!). I am thankful for my wonderful friends who have reached out during this year – your support keeps me strong and inspired. I am thankful for those who have helped us (Greg and I as well as all of my other Minnesota Orchestra colleagues) to put food on our tables by hiring us as subs in your wonderful orchestras and ensembles. These things MOA can’t take away from us and that feels good to know!
Thank you also to my colleagues in the Minnesota Orchestra for all your hard work – the negotiating committee who never stops working, the PR committee for keeping people truthfully informed and getting our message out, the concert committee for the MANY hours of work to keep this orchestra performing (including our music librarians who search far and wide for music!), the logistics committee for all the financial information that helps us continue to survive, my fellow members committee for being on top of the details when we need to communicate and make decisions, the development committee who continue to fund raise to keep us on stage, and everyone else I may be forgetting at this late hour. I am sure each of you do a lot more than I have listed and I apologize if I left things out here. You are all wonderful and I am proud to share the stage with you as well as work with you endlessly behind the scenes!
Tonight, I am conflicted. I am sad for what has come to fruition but I am thankful for so much. I can only hold onto hope that all isn’t lost and that the pain forcefully inflicted on us will stop soon