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May 05, 2006


I think Robert's analysis is correct, except for two things: (a) I believe that the article was written for local officers, not rank and file musicians; (b) I disagree with the implication that the article purposely takes sides *against* SLSO musicians, ICSOM and Lenny Liebowitz (although it certainly appears to reach that conclusion).

The article is consistent with Cohen's and the Federation's institutional behavior.

(1) Cohen is reported to be very conservative with his legal advice. It follows that he would write an article advising locals to take the most conservative (safe) approach to negotiations.

(2) The AFM is a collection of Locals. It therefore follows that its instruction and advice would be in support of insulating a local from legal hassles.

If the St. Louis lock-out and ULP had never happened, perhaps the article might not have gotten written, but if you were to have asked Cohen for advice on whether to file or not, his answer would be the same as in the article, St. Louis strike or no. Every time a local gets sued, the Federation gets involved, attention is diverted and resources get consumed. The St. Louis situation is a case in point. Since it was so high-profile, with national attention focused on it, the article probably *had* to be written. (Probably also didn't hurt that Tom Lee and Geo Cohen apparently don't seem to like Lenny Liebowitz).

As for the appearance of taking sides, I don't see how Cohen could have written anything but what he did. He is reciting the requirements of law and advising locals to follow those requirements as a means of insulating themselves and their members from "dire" consequences. It's certainly not the bold warrior approach, but it's the legally safest one for locals, most of whom lack resources, sophisticated officers and unified memberships. I certainly wouldn't expect the lawyer to write a public consumption article stating, "If you don't plan to strike, and if you hope that management won't file an 8(d) notice or reopening letter, and if you hope to protect yourself from management imposing their last, best offer, and if you can assure yourself that your strategy is bomb-proof, then by all means don't bother filing the 8(d) notice." And I don't see ICSOM advocating that type of advice, either. And I doubt that the SLSO negotiating team went through that thought process, either.

I think the article is mostly advice to a local on how it can insulate itself from liability when a situation goes south. I think it's also important to separate what happened in St. Louis from Cohen's article. The failure to file and 8(d) notice did not have to be a make-or-break matter in St. Louis. Looks to me like the problems there were more about the politics of personality. The local shouldn't have forced the players to vote on a crappy offer, and the local shouldn't have wasted energy bringing Liebowitz before the NY bar association. The local officers and symphony musicians shouldn't be antagonistic toward one another, but since they are, someone on the negotiating team should have anticipated the local officers' behavior in advance.

Cohen isn't going to write an article about that kind of thing. That's more appropriately delivered by SSD. It's the kind of thing that the AFM should be teaching in educational seminars. It's easy to blame the lawyers for an institution's faults, but to do so misses the real target.

Robert does a good job of analysis. Sadley, the IM piece is just a veiled political statement that orchestras should only use the lawyers approved and presented at the AFM May 8-9, 2006 negotiating summit in Chicago; not those presented by the players conferences at their meetings.

In contrite terms: The union picks the lawyer from now on you fucking foo-foo players.

>Previously posted:
>George Cohen is a great lawyer.

Please allow me to correct the record: Henry Kaiser was a great lawyer. Bredhoff and Kaiser was a great labor law firm. The operative word in these statements is "was." For 25 years, Bredhoff and Kaiser has been living off a reputation. The Henry Kaiser Bredhoff and Kaiser was a strong offensive advocate for labor. The George Cohen Bredhoff and Kaiser only plays defense. Cohen's First Rule is " if you don't go up to bat you'll never strike out." (We all know his second rule: "Whatever it is - appeal it - that's where the money is")

When you ask George the best way to do something, he usually tells you why you shouldn't do it. And this attitude is continues with his collegues who are working with the Federation now. When you ask for an opinion you get an agreement with both sides of the issue.

Living in the shadow of a giant doesn't make you a giant. Henry Kaiser was the giant.

I also noticed that Lenny Lebowitz was mentioned in the post. Whatever you may have heard, Lenny is an advocate in the true sense of the word. He'll get up to bat, and even if he strikes out he'll run to first and argue that he belongs there. It's true the man takes chances, and it may be true that he doesn't succeed every time - but in our position, those chances have to be taken.

Cohen wrote in the IM May 2006,

"employees who strike upon contract expiration are no longer protected by the labor law"

This is not entirely true, The Union should file the notice, but once a contract has expired, it expired if you keep working or stop working you do not lose all labor law protections, the line Cohen wrote is misleading.

This is a issue that really pisses me off with the AFM and their lawyers where they ( AFM & SHARKS) keep trying to cover the asses of those in office from law suits and give up ground on the musicians labor movement, I used to wonder when the AFM's Ball were cut off, but I am really coming to the mind set that the AFM and their Lawyers never had any balls!

This is the Ken Shirk mind set duck and cover hide run away....

Cohen letter is stupid and might have only been printed to cover the AFM's ass in some other unknown agenda.

There is a few of you that I know are true and have a set of balls out there, could you loan them to the International for awhile so they can get something done?

There are 4 generations of musicians without any union right now working in the music industry, and there is nothing going on to cover those musicians.

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