PEORIA -- The letter below has been sent to musicians of the Peoria Symphony. The board has refused to recognize their union, even though a majority signed union cards. So now an election must be held, with the costs associated with that.
Greetings! The Peoria Musicians Organizing Committee is pleased to report that the National Labor Relations Board is in the process of setting a date for our unionization election.
On August 21, a petition was filed with the NLRB office in Peoria indicating our desire to have a secret-ballot vote on whether the musicians of the Peoria Symphony wish to recognize the American Federation of Musicians as their bargaining agent for the purpose of contract negotiations with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. By law, this means our election should be held within the next two months. It will probably be conducted by mail.
As you are all aware, the reason that more than half the orchestra signed cards asking for this vote was because of the hasty, erratic, and questionable decisions taken last winter and spring by the PSO's board of directors. These actions were taken without any input from the people the decisions affected most—the musicians—and raised the question of whether we have any rights or say in the orchestra at all.
Consequently, we need a union contract. A negotiated contract will, first and foremost, secure for musicians an equal place at the table with management, including a vote, and will ensure that actions affecting our working conditions are not decided in secret. A negotiated contract will also give musicians an equal say in audition and grievance procedures to prevent arbitrary auditioning or dismissals by management, a protection that our current player agreements do not provide. This will be especially important once a new conductor is appointed.
In other words, we believe that obtaining union representation for the PSO is the best way to enable musicians and management to work together to create a positive environment for everyone. Union representation is also the best way to provide stability for the orchestra and to ensure that this outstanding group of musicians stays together.
As we await our election date, we expect that the PSO board itself will want to contact musicians. We look forward to an open airing of all sides of this question, but please be aware that there are certain boundaries established by federal labor law. To step outside these boundaries would be illegal and called Unfair Labor Practices. Generally speaking, this means management may not threaten to fire you or close down the orchestra if we win the vote for union representation; they may not ask you how you intend to vote or what you think about union representation; they may not promise you a raise or promotion based on your intended vote; and they may not spy on meetings to determine who supports the union. This election will be by secret ballot—management will never know how you voted. If you think an unfair labor practice has occurred, please contact a member of the Organizing Committee at once.
This is a big step in the life of the Peoria Symphony. Around the country, seventy-five orchestras like ours have taken this step, including, from our area, the Quad City Symphony, Elgin Symphony, and South Bend Symphony. We firmly believe this is a step that will be beneficial to musicians and management alike as we go forward into the future.
The Peoria Musicians Organizing Committee