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No progress in Bach strike
Conn-Selmer says it is willing to resume talks

Published: Friday, January 19, 2007 -- The Truth

By Marilyn Odendahl
Truth Staff

ELKHART -- Contract talks between Conn-Selmer and the union at its subsidiary Vincent Bach continue to sputter, despite the company calling the last proposal its last, best and final offer.

Prior to Christmas, the bargaining committee from United Auto Workers Local 364, which represents the 230 Vincent Bach workers, submitted to Conn-Selmer a counter offer containing three or four items, said Jerry Stayton, Local 364 president. Following the holidays, the company rejected the proposal.

Now the company has indicated it is willing to meet with the union again, although no meeting date has been set.

"There's a few things they said they would be willing to talk about," Stayton said.

Contrary to the company's statements about the abilities of the replacement workers hired since the strike began, Stayton believes Conn-Selmer still wants to come to an agreement with the union because, he said, the Vincent Bach plant is not producing the number of trumpets and trombones necessary to make a profit.

As Conn-Selmer deals with the nine-month-old strike, its parent company, Steinway Musical Instruments Inc., is trying to avert a strike at its Steinway Piano factory in Queens, N.Y. The contract for the 484 members of the United Furniture Workers expired Dec. 31 but, according to Steinway spokeswoman Julie Theriault, talks are ongoing and the employees are working without a contract.

A grassroots movement among some of the members of Local 364 to bring national attention to the strike has been progressing.

The American Federation of Musicians Local 369 in Las Vegas is supporting a boycott of all Conn-Selmer musical instruments until the labor disagreement at the Vincent Bach facility is resolved.

"We're asking that any professional musician here not to buy any Bach or Conn-Selmer instruments," said Thom Pastor secretary/treasurer of Local 369. "We think it's just a corporate ploy to show stockholders a better bottom line and some lawyer is going to become a hero as a result of what he's doing to these families making these instruments."

The AFM Local 369 has a membership roll of 700, including professionals playing in the casinos, as well as many music teachers.

On Sunday, several labor groups are sponsoring a solidarity benefit for Vincent Bach workers. A few members from UAW Local 364 are planning to attend the afternoon event.

"I'm just really appreciative," said Deneen Seigler, a member of Local 364. "It's great because people in another community and another state are helping us out."

Contact Marilyn Odendahl at modendahl@etruth.com

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