In late October we became aware of two ads that had been posted on the popular Web site, Craigslist. Applicants were being sought for a “Music Operator” and a “Conductor” to “operate (a) computerized virtual orchestra for New York Theatre production in the event of a labor dispute…availability beginning February 2003.”
Since, it was not possible to determine who had placed the ads, I wrote to the executive director of the League of American Theatres and Producers, Jed Bernstein, giving our reaction, saying that I hoped there was no League involvement and seeking assurance that they were committed to good faith bargaining. The ads and both letters are printed in full (see next article).
The ads, or something like them, might have been predicted; we have been anticipating that employers could avail themselves of the various technologies that have been developed. They have, as a matter of fact, issued direct warnings or threats that they were doing this. So that, while the blatancy of the ads surprised us, we were not surprised strike breakers were being sought. (After a several e-mail exchanges with Bill Dennison, Craigslist removed the ads.)
The Bernstein letter is another matter. After an initial attempt to seem conciliatory, the letter quickly becomes somewhat threatening and hostile. The willingness to display such an attitude is a matter of special concern this far in advance of what both parties recognize to be a difficult, unpredictable negotiation.
While we have been consciously trying to avoid beating the war drums in our preparations for the discussions, the League seems to be dusting off the nuclear warheads.