Players in the Madison Symphony Orchestra voted 43 to 36 on Monday to affiliate with the American Federation of Musicians union, in the Local 166 chapter. The vote was supervised by the National Labor Relations Board, which will certify the results in a week if no objections are filed.
The union had depicted the organizing effort as a natural, evolutionary step in the orchestra's maturation, while the orchestra's director warned it would bring an unwanted "third party" between the musicians and orchestra management.
MSO isn't the only site of musical militancy in Madison. The vote took place on heels of a breakdown in negotiations between the musicians union and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, where players went on strike last fall.
After signs that that dispute might be resolved, the orchestra and the union hit a roadblock in late January when the union polled members and found they were unwilling to accept certain management demands.
The union has now asked the NLRB to charge the chamber orchestra with unfair labor practices for withdrawing contract terms previously thought to be settled and for demanding that union members agree to perform at the group's masterworks concert in February. That concert is now canceled.