United States

Fort Worth Symphony Association and Musician's Union Battle Over New Contract

Negotiations between the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Association and its musician’s union appear to have hit a bad note.

After seven months of negotiations for a new contract, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Association said it has submitted its final contract offer. The FWSOA says a $4 million gap remains between proposals.

The FWSOA said their final offer, which includes a three-year contract with concessions that include an 8.4 percent decrease in compensation to musicians, will be implemented on Jan. 25.

"The Association wants the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra to thrive for generations to come," said Amy Adkins, FWSOA president and CEO. "However, the orchestra is facing a financial crisis, not of its own making, that threatens the very existence of this fine organization. Asking our musicians to accept concessions is a difficult thing to do, but the alternative is a ballooning deficit that would cause the orchestra to run out of money to pay its bills as early as next March. This would result in our inability to pay the salaries of our 100 full-time and more than 300 part-time employees, including our musicians. Simply put, the association is striving to preserve the jobs of our valued employees."

The association said the current average salary of an FWSO musician is $60,900.

Meanwhile, the American Federation of Musicians Local 72-147, which represents symphony musicians, said the FWSOA submitted the same package for the fourth time since October and that the cuts would take salaries down to 2003 levels.

"The symphony has claimed that they need further concessions from us to keep the doors open, but this flies in the face of basic common sense," said Ken Krause, president of AFM Local 72-147. "Fort Worth’s economy is the envy of cities all around the US, but management has not been able to capitalize on this growth. Instead, management has been depleting its contingency funds for years while refusing to mount campaigns to replenish them. During the same time, the Symphony’s budget has actually gone down, from a high of $13.1 million in 2009 to $11.9 million in 2014. By refusing to have a plan for growth, FWSO management is risking the health of one of Fort Worth’s most cherished institutions.

The union is demanding FWSO Association management return to the bargaining table.

Meanwhile, the Star-Telegram reports the musicians have met to take a strike authorization vote, and if passed the union could call for a strike at any time.

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