AFM, Local 40-543-Baltimore Symphony Musicians Update and Fundraiser Concert on September 17 @ 6:00 PM

See this week's picketing schedule and more.


An update from affiliate AFM, Local 40-543..................................

Baltimore Symphony Musicians’ Work Stoppage Continues

At 6:59 p.m. on September 9, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra management issued a “final,” “take it or leave it” offer to its musicians, who have been locked out since June 17. The employer asked the orchestra to vote on the proposal, which contained an Option No. 1 and an Option No. 2—both options were rejected overwhelmingly by the musicians.

Federal mediators proposed an extension of negotiations until close of business on September 12, which management rejected. Musicians then suggested an extension until the close of voting, but management rejected that proposal as well. The proposal was presented to the orchestra Tuesday evening, September 10, and the vote was taken electronically. 

Under Option No. 1, the musicians would be paid for 40 weeks of work, which has been the employer’s goal since bargaining began. The employer proposed an incomprehensible Rube Goldberg-combination of stipend and donor money to pay the musicians for 12 weeks of non-work. This “bonus” would require the musicians to waive their seniority and over-scale payments for the 12 weeks of non-work. The employer would also agree to hire up to six musicians; when the orchestra does return to work, there will be only 75 full-time musicians under contract, in violation of the 83 mandated by the latest expired CBA, and the 98 that was required before the BSO started extracting round after round of cuts from the orchestra many years ago.

In addition, the BSO wanted to eliminate all guaranteed relief services. They wanted the musicians to agree to participate in the new Integrated Media Agreement, but they planned for the musicians to underwrite that expense. And the employer wanted to initiate yet another joint workgroup, a “vision committee,” which would be a new standing committee of the board.

Option No. 2 was simply an extension of the expired agreement through December 31, 2019, which would have gotten the musicians back on stage with no guarantee that they wouldn’t be locked out again on January 1, 2020.

The employer “lifted” its lockout on the evening of September 9. The union filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board on September 10, in part charging the BSO with failure to bargain in good faith and unlawfully locking out the musicians to put in place the employer’s unilateral implementation of their 40 work-week proposal without reaching an impasse. 

The Baltimore Symphony Musicians will not return to work until they have a ratified agreement in place and will continue to picket. As of the writing of this article, no further negotiations have been scheduled.

The Baltimore Symphony Musicians negotiated in good faith throughout the summer during the lockout. They, along with important community leaders, organized prominent donors to assist in this process, donors who have brought over $1 million designated specifically for musician compensation to help secure a contract.

The musicians will continue the fight to preserve their 103-year-old institution, which serves the city of Baltimore, the surrounding counties, and the state of Maryland. They stand ready and willing to go back to the negotiating table to achieve an agreement that will enable them to continue to attract and retain the highest quality musicians to perform for their audiences. 

It is a dark time in the history of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Over the past three months of being locked out, the musicians have each lost over $20,000 in salary, with more to come. This dispute is not just about money. It is also about respect—respect for the quality of the musicians on stage, respect for generations of Marylanders who have built this orchestra, and respect for the thousands of people who have bought tickets and have donated to this venerable institution.

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Bread and Roses:

Locked-Out BSO Musicians Concert/Fundraiser

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Busboys and Poets Takoma
235 Carroll St - NW, Washington, DC 20012
Tickets by Eventbrite
Baltimore Symphony Musicians – members of AFM Local 40-543 – will perform music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Claude Debussy, Yuko Uebayashi and Brian Prechtl, as well as provide an update on the ongoing work stoppage.

The performance – part of Local 40-543’s Make Music with Baltimore Symphony Musicians Project and co-presented by the DC Musician’s Union (AFM Local 161-710), the Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO and the DC LaborFest, is free, but attendees are urged to support the BSO musicians through their Go Fund Me account.
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We are so grateful to everyone who has been turning out to walk with us on our picket line: union sisters and brothers, subscribers, donors, politicians, community leaders, children, dogs - you all inspire us to continue fighting for a fair contract as our employer resorts to threats and intimidation.

Mary C. Plaine, Secretary-Treasurer
Musicians' Association of Metropolitan Baltimore
Local 40-543, American Federation of Musicians

You can help support the Baltimore Symphony Musicians by making 
a contribution to their GoFundMe page:
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Schedule to be determined.
Picketing will take place at:
Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

1212 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

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See the latest coverage on the lockout from WJZ-TV:

To send on-line contributions to the Baltimore Symphony Musicians: 

To send contributions to the Baltimore Symphony Musicians by check:

Make check payable to: 
Baltimore Symphony Musicians, Inc.

Send check to: 

Baltimore Symphony Musicians 

c/o Local 40-543 AFM

1055 Taylor Avenue, Suite 218

Baltimore, MD 21286


You can purchase our charcoal grey shirts with white lettering or our black t-shirts with red, white and blue lettering online at our website

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To send contributions to The Musicians’ Association of Metropolitan Baltimore to help offset the loss of work dues:

Make check payable to “Local 40-543, AFM”

Send check to:

The Musicians’ Association of Metropolitan Baltimore

1055 Taylor Avenue, Suite 218

Baltimore, MD 21286

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