Pittsburgh backtracks on threat to replace its musicians

Pittsburgh Symphony COO Christian Schörnich is today trying to play down the letter he sent to striking musicians, reserving the right to replace them if the strike continued.

Schörnich said the letter, published in slippedisc.com, had been written by the company legal counsel – did he not read it before it went out? – and that he had no intention of replacing musicians.

‘I don’t want to even go there,’ he told the local paper. ‘There’s no intention behind this.’

So why did he sign the letter?


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  • This is the appropriate paragraph that provides a summation for the entire letter:

    “Please understand that this letter is not be intended to interfere with your protected rights
    under the National Labor Relations Act, as those rights are explained to you by your Union, nor is it to be interpreted as a comment on your decision to exercise your right to engage in an economic strike. As stated above, it is intended only to serve as an information letter concerning your compensation and benefits as of this date.”

    Anything that follows, i.e. replacing “employees”, is a blatant threat. Schörnich is retreating from his own words–like many U.S. political candidates–because of the industry uproar over his vitriol.

  • The board’s vision is being executed here by the management. I hope the Post-Gazette, Tribune-Review or PGH City Paper can get one of the officers on the record to explain themselves

  • It sounds like the old protection racket: If you don’t pay us money, we may be forced to burn your house down. Oh sorry, didn’t mean to upset you: of course we have no intention of burning your house down. Saying we might do so was merely a formality.

  • This is what happens when you employ managers with no understanding of the industry they are managing. Many subtle nuances are missed, one being that musicians are much harder to replace than you think (and whatever the standard of playing of any replacements, it would take several seasons to get a new ensemble to play together as an orchestra)

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