Symphony musicians, represented by the American Federation of Musicians (AF of M) have been forced out on strike to protect their livelihoods and the orchestras themselves. (see the letter of solidarity from the World Federation of Trade Unions). The musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony are on strike, as are the players with the Pittsburgh Symphony. According to an article by labor beat writer Mark Gruenberg for Press Associates, Inc.,
“Continuing demands by major orchestras’ management for performer pay cuts and givebacks forced the musicians at three noted orchestras – the Philadelphia Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Fort Worth Symphony – to strike.”
The Philly musicians settled after a 2-day strike that canceled the enseble’s opening gala concert for movers, shakers and donors, but the other two are still out, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) reports.
“A smaller group, in Allentown, Pa., with 60-80 players, instead reported rising revenues and placid bargaining, leading to a pay raise and an Oct. 15 contract ratification vote.
The bitter conflicts are in Pittsburgh and Fort Worth. Both managements demanded huge pay cuts and other givebacks, despite the orchestras’ financial health. That forced Fort Worth musicians to strike on Sept. 8, while Pittsburgh followed them three weeks later.The Pittsburgh unionists reported that “after more than six months of negotiations, management presented a ‘last, best, and final’” offer on Sept. 18 that included:
- Annual raises of 2 percent and 3 percent after an initial 15 per cent pay cut. Overall, that translates into a $16,000-per-year pay cut for full-time musicians, the union local says.
- Reduced pensions: Musicians with less than 30 years of service would no longer accrue pension benefits and would be switched to a 401(k) plan.
- A cut in size. News reports said Pittsburgh Symphony management wanted to cut at least one player immediately, to 99.
“After receiving management’s so-called final offer, musicians suggested working with mediators to reach a fair agreement. Despite a mediation process lasting more than 10 days and good-faith efforts by musicians, management’s demands remain unchanged. Yesterday musicians unanimously voted to reject management’s ‘last, best, and final’ offer and go on strike, the union said on Sept. 30.”
- LET THESE ORCHESTRAS KNOW THAT THE PUBLIC SUPPORTS THEIR SYMPHONY ORCHESTRAS AND GOOD COLLECTIVE CONTRACTS FOR THE MUSICIANS!
PLEASE SEND YOUR MESSAGES OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE ORCHESTRAS TO: [email protected]