The Musicians have been negotiating in good faith with Symphony Management to try to reach a deal before the Carnegie Hall tour begins. At 4:30 Sunday morning the talks broke down.
Even though the Musicians believe that the Symphony is in excellent financial condition, they have attempted to address Management’s concerns more than half way. Unfortunately, opportunistically attempting to seize on the misfortunes of other Orchestras, SFS Management continues to insist that the Musicians accept draconian cuts in compensation and benefits and concede work rule changes that would set back by decades the protections in the Musicians’ contract designed to ensure artistic excellence. They have attempted to justify this policy with talk of “operational deficits” which were largely the self- created results of outsized programming and spending an additional 11 million dollars last year on a Centennial Celebration, providing enormous bonuses and compensation to top executives and consultants and directing resources away from the core mission of the Orchestra. Even with all the additional spending the SFS has experienced significant growth in the endowment, reported a 32 million dollar surplus to the IRS, and is projecting substantial growth in revenue this year.
The Musicians’ concern over vacancies in key positions, defections of their most talented musicians to better paid orchestras and Managements’ demands for erosion of essential contract protections has them willing to stay out on strike until Management makes a fair contract offer – one fitting for an organization in solid financial condition and that will help to maintain the artistic quality of the orchestra that has taken so long to build.
In the meantime, we continue to believe that Management, especially given the public money it receives, needs to make public the Symphony’s finances.