Posted on November 21, 2016
One of the primary goals of the Denver Musicians Association is to foster the strongest possible association of professional musicians. The tools we use to accomplish this goal are collective bargaining, the local scale of wages, and our local and AFM bylaws. As union members we are all bound by oath to abide by these bylaws and wages – it is the essential way in which we stand together in solidarity to establish respect for professional musicians and continue to exert the upward and lateral pressure to make our industry stronger.
We also agree to only work either: 1) under a collective bargaining agreement where we, as a bargaining unit, have negotiated and ratified wages and working conditions with an employer, or; 2) according to the conditions expressed in our bylaws (which includes a provision for collaborative, cooperative organizations) and the scale of wages. To do otherwise undermines solidarity, compromises efforts to negotiate other agreements, and contributes to the erosion of our union.
The question is often asked “what is the union doing about orchestra Y?” Or, “why does the union turn a blind eye towards festival Z?” Perhaps the better questions are, why do we as union members even participate in Y and Z? What have we done recently as a union to correct a compromised situation, or to form an organizing committee? Why do we not participate in the democratic processes of the union?

PLEASE – actively participate in the politics of your orchestra, group, festival or organization AND the local, and seek to ORGANIZE. Talk to your colleagues, form a committee, and work with the DMA to secure a legally recognized seat at the table so you may negotiate with your employer on the mandatory subjects of bargaining. You are entitled to do so under the law.

This call to action is not your union’s attempt to meddle in your affairs. Unions are designed specifically to assist employees to organize – to offer the ‘prepackaged’ structure and resources of an existing labor organization that comprises like minded professionals.

The DMA does not belong to the board or officers; it is YOUR union and can only be as strong and useful as the membership makes it.