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Musicians strike; concert cancelled

Friday, Nov 2, 2012

For Immediate Release

Contact: Annie Matlow 464-7071



Spokane - The Spokane Symphony Society has been informed by the union representing the musicians that they have rejected the Society’s latest contract offer and are going to strike as of 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. As a result, tomorrow night’s SuperPops performance is cancelled.

 

“It is with regret that I must announce that after an additional day and a half of intensive bargaining where the Symphony made significant compromises that they felt would bring the sides to an agreement, the musicians have halted the negotiations and called for a strike. It is disappointing that the musicians have chosen to withhold the performance from their audience,” said Spokane Symphony Board President Peter Moye.

 

The contract between the Spokane Symphony Society and the Musicians Local #105 of the American Federation of Musicians expired on Aug. 30, 2012. Negotiations had been ongoing since March 2012.   The musicians have continued to play since the contract expired. On Oct. 10, the two groups met with a Federal Mediator for a second time. While progress was made, an agreement was not reached and the union rejected the Board’s final offer. The two groups returned to the table on Thursday, Nov. 1.

 

The Musicians had been working under a contract negotiated in 2006. Musician compensation was based on a guaranteed number of "services" (rehearsals, concerts or educational events) at three different tiers of musicians in the orchestra. The "core musicians" had the greatest number of guaranteed services under the 2006 contract. With the economic downturn, some programs had to be cancelled and others anticipated at the time of the contract were no longer possible. Even though it became impossible for the organization to use those guaranteed services, the core musicians were paid for work they never performed. The value of the unused services has ranged from $120,000 to $180,000 annually during each of the last three years.

 

Musicians work a 38-week season, with a maximum of eight, two-and-one-half-hour services per week at an average pay of $43.29 per hour. The terms set by the Board continue at the same rate and reduce the amount of guaranteed services to a level that can be used under the current structure.

 

Since 2009, over $500,000 or nearly 13% has been cut from the Symphony's annual operating budget. This has included cutting expenses by reducing administrative staff (eliminating 8 FTEs, full-time equivalent positions), revising programs and eliminating expenses not critical to its core mission. Additionally, during this time administrative staff members have taken pay cuts, voluntarily taken furloughs and donated back vacation time so that musician pay could be kept at the freeze level agreed to in 2009.

 

Yet, despite these efforts, there has been a decline in income, including ticket sales. Due to these economic pressures, the Board cannot support the service guarantee, an expense that pays for musician services that were planned at the time of the 2006 contract but never performed.  What this is about is the organization paying for services that go unused. The board’s priority is to be good stewards of its resources.

 

The Spokane Symphony is a non-profit organization governed by a volunteer board of trustees.

 

If a patron purchased tickets to the Nov. 3, 2012 concert, the Symphony will put a credit on their account for the value of tickets purchased, and they do not need to contact the Box Office immediately.They can use this credit for a ticket to a future performance once the season has resumed, or can use it toward another purchase.

Other options include:
1. An immediate exchange into a future concert, with some exclusions.
2. A donation made to the Spokane Symphony in the amount of the tickets purchased.
3. A gift certificate in the amount of the tickets purchased.
4.  A refund for the tickets purchased.

 

If one would like to exchange, donate, receive a gift certificate or a refund, please contact the Box Office, call 509-624-1200. Subscribers can also contact the Box Office by emailing subscriber@spokanesymphony.organd single ticket buyers can email tickets@spokanesymphony.org.

 

Box Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 3, noon to 8 p.m..

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