Moog Music Workers Organize To ‘Synthesize Unions’

Workers at Moog Music, a 49% Employee-Owned Company in Asheville, North Carolina, have announced that they are launching a unionization campaign.

On Wednesday June 1st, a group of Moog Music employees announced that they are organizing with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and seek to join Local 238. You can view video from their June 1st rally, via Lauren Steiner, above.

The employees say that they are organizing to:

  • Address unlivable low wages;
  • Achieve a voice in the company; and
  • Gain just-cause employment protections.

The employees say that they also want to precedent by unionizing a manufacturing facility in the south. Organizers say that North Carolina is the second least unionized state in the nation, with just 2.6% of workers organized. In 2021, Oxfam ranked North Carolina as the worst state in the country for wages, worker protections, and rights to organize.

While Moog Music is 49% employee-owned, the workers say that employee ownership falls short with regards to providing stable livable employment. They note that the starting hourly rate at Moog for assemblers, packers, and warehouse workers is $14.10/hour, but a living wage in Asheville is $17.70/hour.

“Every single instrument I pass through my station sells for more than my monthly take home wages, notes Jack Dahnke, who handles final calibration on the Matriarch line. “I’m expected to go through 11 daily.”

The group is sharing updates via Twitter.

61 thoughts on “Moog Music Workers Organize To ‘Synthesize Unions’

    1. Tell that to the thousands of workers in my city who lost their jobs when five major companies left my city and moved out of state and out of country because they were tired of dealing with unions. The remaining local jobs now are primarily either in healthcare at our local hospitals, working for the city, or warehouses and big box stores.

    1. She settled with Moog.

      It sounds like she had a weak case, knew it and settled vs taking it to court.

      No saying that there aren’t sexist bros at Moog, but if you read the coverage of her case, most of it was based on just her statements and was pretty biased.

        1. You don’t special knowledge to know that news coverage is biased when it’s solely based on the statements of one party to a lawsuit.

          It’s a statement of fact that most of the coverage of Hannah Green’s case was pretty biased.

          The main source that these articles were based on were Hannah Green’s statements, or an article based entirely on Hannah Green’s statements that was published in a self-described “leftist local news co-op” (https://ashevilleblade.com/?p=40420.

      1. 17 plus per hour???!!!
        I work hard on my job for commissions ONLY, luckily getting
        450 a week, I’m living on that, and I use my own car and
        pay for my own gas (5+ a gallon!), and you all think you are
        suffering! Hell, you all get a raise, then the price of your
        products will go up also, they cost to much now!!

  1. wow, this is really interesting seeing as Moog uses being ‘Employee-Owned’ as one of their marketing points. the transparency this brings is actually really refreshing and eye opening. i wonder if it has to do with sales or an imbalance in salaries in the various positions within the company.

  2. This blows the narrative lie we have been fed that Moog is employee owned and run and some fabulous place to be a part of.

    1. Does it really blow the narrative? The impression I had of moog was that it was run like a hippy collective. That’s going to be terribly inefficient and result in low wages, just the reality of the situation.

      1. I’d say they make hundreds of millions per year. That would no longer be a hippy collective like it was long ago.

  3. If I was Uli, I’d start work on cloning a Moog One right now and make it a high priority. If these people get their way, the One will surely rise in cost over $12K and a $2K Behringer alternative would be appropriate “just desserts” for these people lucky enough to have a job doing something they, presumably, love. All most unions amount to, today, are organizations for promotion of extortion. Unfortunately, I think that these people are confusing “I want” and “I need”. Typical, I’m afraid, of their over-pampered generation.

    1. @Rossi – Clearly, you are confused and have no idea what you are talking about. Not even a little bit. I would attempt to educate you on unions, their benefits to society, worker rights, and their effects on economies. However this is neither the forum, nor the space to attempt such an ambitious task. I suggest in the meantime that you read more, educate yourself, and actually pay attention to reason rather than rigid ideology.

      1. Unions do siphon off workers pay and often leave them poorer. There is a reason they were run by the mob. Its simple economics, workers that are easy to replace because they have no skills are not going to justify significant pay. Its nothing but fundamental supply and demand.

        1. Libertarian much? Unions historically were what gave the working poor of this country the ability to enjoy a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle. What you have stated here is completely false. There have been mob-infested unions, IATSE in particular that controlled much of the craftsmen of the movie industry but, they were only one aspect of organized labor.

      2. Modern3 is absolutely right about the benefits of unions. For creative people (and people working togther), collective organisiation is so important in helping people get a living wage, giving people a sense of community and restoring decency to their work.

  4. Hopefully, Moog’s leadership will see that having unionized workers who are treated fairly and paid appropriately will make their company even more attractive to conscious/conscientious buyers.

    1. All its going to do is raise the price of a moog and cause the company to sell less and layoff the unionized workers.

    2. Those buyers don’t exist. If there were a significant number of them everything people buy in the US wouldn’t be made in China and sold in walmart/amazon.

  5. well, if it helps the instruments, great. Otherwise, unions are not known for doing things better. For the most part, Moog employs unqualified workers with low level skills, who are paid well for the work they do. I am afraid that this could be the end of Moog over a midterm base.

    1. I’m sorry to say that you’ve been misled, Tom. Unions are known for doing plenty of good. Including bargaining for living wages for their members. Furthermore… we are not talking about grocery baggers here. These folks are assembling $5k+ USD instruments world renowned for their quality and workmanship.

    2. I agree completely. The reality is if someone is an unskilled worker that is the pay they are going to get. I had an employee today say my company pays an unlivable wage after we fired her for not showing up or calling for three days in a row, she claimed she couldn’t afford the gas for the 30 minute drive she has. The funny thing is last time I checked cell phones don’t run on gas and right now the employment rate is at a historic low so she could easily find a job closer to home. A lot of the low wage/skilled workers have an entitlement attitude.

      1. Yeah of course, because that’s what moog synthesizers are known for, being built by unskilled workers..

        Pathetic that someone would tell you pay an unliveable wage and your immediate instinct is to talk shit about them, but thanks for making a quick case in point for why unions are needed.

    3. Agree. Their costs have already nudged them more out of the market. I have spent thousands with the company, but nothing right now wows me. Union demand 5U stuff and I’ll talk. If they are really employee owned they can do the right thing and release modules.

    1. Yes, support the company paying its employees $2.xx an hr, instead of the company paying $14.10 an hr.

      1. The living wage in China is very different to the living wage in the US, for many reasons. (I’m not saying that either company pays a fair wage, I genuinely don’t know, just that you can’t compare dollar for dollar.)

  6. “Every single instrument I pass through my station sells for more than my monthly take home wages.” This is a big pause for thought. But I’m genuinely not quite sure what the point is, besides something to think about when you buy a synth.

    Time and again, people on here (not me) say that if the Matriach costs too much for you, it’s because you’re not saving up for it properly, it’s still cheap compared to the 80s etc..

    Anyway. Is Jack implying that some higher management are creaming off too much? or should Moog charge even more for the product, some of which will trickle down to Jack, but also making it still less affordable to people on Jack’s wages?

    (Just to be clear, I’m totally in favour of workers’ rights and fair pay.)

    1. I think Jack is implying merely that he wants to be able to afford rent, groceries, and some small semblance of retirement, when that time comes.

      1. If Jack wants to afford life he needs to take his work more seriously and get some skills. These people drive me nutz. I grew up on government assistance, had to go into debt to get through school while working two jobs. When Jack is ready for that kind of effort he can spend several years doing that kind of work and get to a place where he is no longer unskilled instead of complaining about it and thinking he deserves the same as others that have put in the effort.

        1. In every single post here you have continuously impied that the people who design and make the world’s most renowned synthesizers are somehow unskilled, shitty workers that have no work ethics.

          This is demonstrably and obviously false if you’ve ever touched a moog synth in your life, so stop peddling this bs.

        2. So ‘unskilled’ workers should be paid a sub-standard wage (below the cost of living) so that you can feel better about having done two jobs when you were younger?

        3. Test’s comment just goes to show that there are plenty of avaricious, ruthless class warriors who also happen to share my interest in synthesizer music. It is a shame we breathe the same air.

  7. Of all the companies, it really hurts that MOOG is pulling this stuff lately. Even if they didn’t play up all of that employee owned, diversity friendly pitch, the company is named after BOB freaking MOOG, who was like the friendliest honest guy ever with his old Toyota all painted with flowers and stuff. Management should be embarrassed for being so short-sighted and fat. If you’re gonna pay below a living wage, you might as well just move manufacturing offshore and drop the propaganda campaign.

  8. I wonder how many of the people encouraging this already complain about their pricing, and then turn around and buy from overseas factories as it is. Just wait…

    1. You’re right, Volt. Factory owners are historically well known to siphon off every last penny they can.

      1. I agree too. Company owners, boards of directors, and major shareholders are generally mean, greedy, libertarian-minded, SOBs who do anything and everything they can to siphon off as much as they can for themselves. Not all are, maybe not even most are but, It really does seem as if there are quite enough who are against us so that having unions on our side is the only thing we have fighting for us to really try to to protect us from business owners who otherwise hold all of the cards against us.

  9. I’m not privy to the books or possible material-sourcing hell, so I can’t say how profitable Moog is or isn’t. Some bosses are holding things together with tape through no fault of their own. My personal experience says that two things really make a job suck: bad management that treats people poorly and/or mishandles accounts receivable such that the company is running hand to mouth. It scrapes your nerves too hard.

    For instance, the Moog One should have been a more streamlined $2500 synth that would probably have sold more units handily. THEN the massive $12k ‘Moog Two’ for the Schulzes, Zimmers and BTs would have made more sense. The Grandmother and etc. are smart designs. If Moog can handle a sci-fi flagship on the high end and cool pieces like Moogerfoogers on the other, there should be enough profit to lift the whole staff that vital, added notch.

    Its hard not to feel suspicious at times, but paying the help better is a proven way to solidify the staff and better the community. Crime drops and the tax coffers become notably healthier. If it takes a union to get Moog more on board and it works, its a win-win. Not to be a dewy-eyed hippie assburger, but I’d love to see that $2500 Moog One and a $2k module version, built by a staff that was focused because they weren’t sweating the rent. Ah, what do I know, I’m a synthaholic.

    1. Honestly the grandmothers are overpriced for what they. A big part of moog’s issues is their lack of automation and heavy reliance on people.

    1. I agree.

      It’s more obvious with companies like Starbucks or Amazon (or B-word) that individual workers have zero power– apart from quitting — only to be replaced by a more compliant bee — and having to find another job.

      Unions often get a bad rap that is largely just old anti-communist propaganda. Collective bargaining is an essential right. It is true that unions are only as good as their people; but the same is also true of management– and THAT is a fact that anti-union people refuse to acknowledge . For some reason, anti-union people tend to love punching downward.

      I’ve generally considered Moog to be a good company with a good reputation. Them becoming a union shop would be a massive feather (odd term?) in their cap.

      1. I don’t agree. I worked for a union and all they did was siphon off a portion of my pay while providing zero benefit. If a worker wants negotiating power they need a skill that is demand that isn’t easy to replace. A no skilled worker is always going to be easy to replace and thus is never going to demand anything other than minimal pay. In capitalism the reality is that demand and supply drive price so pick a profession that is in demand and has a low supply of workers and you will make a lot. Pick a profession that has lots of workers and you won’t make much.

        Unions don’t solve that problem, at best they delay it.

  10. I agree with the engineer quoted at the end of the article… Moog is selling their gear at a premium enough rate to pay their employees in a premium way – especially considering the hand-built nature of the products

    1. He’s confusing profit margin with sales price. Short term thinking will eventually lead to more layoffs or even bankruptcy.

      Moog has lost 25% revenue the last two years and had to lay off people. Demanding higher wages is a cost that will be paid with increased prices on their products. Since they already are a premium brand this will lose them customers. And they are already in a bad spot. Horrible timing.

      1. Dan Price lowered his salary by 90% so his employees can make as much income as he gets and his company is thriving, and most other CEOs hate him for showing the deep flaws in our economic system. If employees of Moog are not receiving enough money, then management is clearly receiving too much. There’s a start for keeping the company viable. If raising wages a mere $3 an hour is going to break the company, then Moog is clearly mismanaged.

  11. But…But… Wasn’t Moog not THE example of good hearted “made in Amerika” and giving citizens high quality jobs instead letting chinese slave workers do the job, for what Satan Behringer is always bashed?!

    *lol*

  12. IBEW President salary $477K.
    My father was IBEW member 70 years (Local 164 Jersey City NJ). Probably made $25K best year (1975 admittedly) and he had to work at TOP of George Washington Bride in NY. Not sure why soldering circuit boards needs more than minimum wage. BTW minimum wage is always $0. If living cost in Asheville is $17 and you make $14 move out of Ashville and commute. If you can’t afford gas it is PUTIN’S fault!!

  13. Suddenly Moog is going to move its manufacturing overseas. They will have lower production cost and be able to price their product at an affordable price and sell tons. Tell me a manufacturing industry that unions did not force overseas? Fi unions were so great for the workforce we’d have tons of jobs making things. We don’t. I’m not pro or anti unions, i just know that an unskilled job is easy to move, assemblers and testers are pretty easy to move.

    1. This is an outrageous mischaracterization of labor relations in the United States. Corporations that moved manufacturing overseas throughout the latter half of the 20th century did so to increase returns for their owners and/or shareholders, not because organized labor forced them into financially ruinous agreements. See the cult of Jack Welch, etc.

      As I wrote earlier in this thread, it sickens me that so many anti-labor bootlickers share my interest in these wonderful instruments.

  14. In the case of Moog, those evil shareholders are the employees. Anyone who has worked there a number of years has a substantial nest egg from both the stock shares and contributed to their own 401k and company matching. That is how people save for retirement. A Union does the opposite. They steal money from employees to send to their leftist corrupt politicians to keep them in office. They keep employees who don’t pull their weight and those that do put in the efforts have to do the lazy idiots jobs.

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