We were overwhelmed by the support we experienced on the picket line, from subscribers and patrons, members of our own union and other unions and passersby who understood our cause and wanted to help. The temperature during the strike ranged from a high of 86 to a low of 36. Friends and perfect strangers walked with us for hours, sweating in the heat at first and bundled up against the cold in the end.
We were joined by members of the Chicago Hotel Workers Union fresh from their own strike, by members of the Chicago Teachers Union, by Hamilton and Tootsie pit band members, Goodman Theater directors and members of the Theater Musicians Association, by members of the Chicago Symphony and retirees from the Lyric Opera Orchestra, by students from Roosevelt, DePaul and Northwestern Universities, and many musicians and members of the American Federation of Musicians.
I was particularly touched by one subscriber, a passionate opera lover outraged by the conditions of the strike, who travelled to the city from the suburbs to personally express her support. We got to know her well as she grabbed a strike sign and walked along with us all afternoon!
We were blessed by kind deliveries of cases of water, trays of sandwiches, hot coffee and donuts, homemade cookies, muffins, fruit, snacks and even bags of cough drops and hand warmers during the cold snap! A young woman arrived one morning balancing 2 huge boxes of donuts and a box of coffee on her arm. “I work down the street and read about the strike”, she said. “My sister is a musician and I know how hard you guys work”. One afternoon, 10 pizzas arrived at the picket line with a note: “From the patrons in Box 28.” It was wonderful to feel the broad support.
As we marched we were serenaded by our own brass players and a dozen other local players who joined them over the week to buoy our spirits and give the daily flow of pedestrians a taste of what we do. Our orchestra members came out in force. Some brought their children who had made homemade signs. One read, “Why should I become the best at what I do if it is not valued? James, 13 years old, 9 years playing the cello”
Thank you all!