Tag Archives: covid-19

Orchestras Rally to Put Digital Solutions in Place

Orchestras are rapidly considering how they can continue to serve their communities, exploring streamed concerts and digital-learning capabilities for education programs. A side letter to the AFM’s International Media Agreement was quickly negotiated as the crisis unfolded, allowing orchestras to more easily offer audio or audio-visual streaming of certain performances to their audiences in exchange for commitments to continue compensation to all musicians even when live work cannot proceed. A similar special agreement was created to cover streaming by Canadian orchestras. Other orchestras are availing themselves of streaming rights that already exist within the IMA.

The Philadelphia Orchestra became the first US orchestra to livestream a concert in response to the coronavirus pandemic. On March 12, the orchestra announced the cancellation of its events through March 27, including a concert that had been scheduled for that evening. The same day, a plan was put into place to livestream that evening’s performance as well as record it for radio broadcast. More than 5,000 people tuned in to the Facebook Live broadcast—more the twice the seated capacity in the orchestra’s hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies were performed for the digital audience, as well as the world premiere of a new work by composer Iman Habibi, who was permitted to attend in person.

A Minnesota Orchestra livestream and one from the Toledo Symphony followed the next night. The Windsor Symphony on March 14 and the Vancouver Symphony on March 15 live-streamed concerts performed in empty halls. Among other efforts thus far, on March 16, the Metropolitan Opera began making available a free nightly stream of an encore presentation from its Live in HD series and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has made its “Replay” archive of past performances available free of charge for one month.

AFL-CIO Calls for Workplace Standard on Infectious Diseases

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently decried the Trump Administration for being unprepared for the current coronavirus contagion spreading throughout the US—as well as being incompetent in its federal response to the outbreak—and called for an emergency workplace standard on infectious diseases to protect workers from the virus.

“The reports I’m hearing from our affiliate unions are deeply troubling,” Trumka said in a March 6 speech to a roundtable of reporters. “Guidance from federal authorities have been inconsistent at best and dangerous at worst. Many employers are woefully unprepared. And the virus continues to spread.”

Trumka said the federal government had a permanent infectious disease workplace standard in the works, but President Trump halted work on it when he assumed office in 2017. “This is part of the Trump Administration’s pattern of reckless and dangerous deregulation,” he said.

Trumka said an emergency workplace infectious disease standard would “be a step in the right direction” and set in motion a six-month timeline to create a permanent standard so the US is better prepared if and when the next outbreak occurs. “A protective OSHA standard is even more important now that the Trump administration rolled back CDC-recommended protections, leaving working people at greater risk,” he said.

The nation’s largest union also sent an email to its members—and created a campaign on The Action Network—urging all members to call their federal representatives and advocate for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard for infectious diseases.

“There is no existing OSHA standard or basic regulatory framework that comprehensively addresses an employer’s responsibility to protect workers from infectious diseases,” the campaign statement said. “In the absence of a set of mandatory infection control requirements that employers must implement, there is no assurance that all workers will be protected from infectious diseases like COVID-19.”

To learn more about the AFL-CIO’s position on protecting workers from infectious diseases and to view a list of resources about the COVID-19 outbreak, visit www.aflcio.org.