The musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony are working under a new contract. They voted to reject management’s final contract offer on Friday night.
Starting Monday, Fort Worth Symphony members are working under new terms. The contract that musicians turned down, and that management imposed anyway, cuts their wages by eight-and-a-half percent.
The vote came early Friday evening, but did not disrupt the performance that followed at Bass Performance Hall. After voting to reject the contract, symphony member William Clay said his fellow musicians want management to return to the bargaining table.
“Our research shows that their finances are strong, there is no debt,” Clay said. “They have money to operate well into the future, and the big problem we have is there is no growth for the future. As we can see by the cuts we took in 2010, cutting musicians salaries does not result in viability or sustainability.”
Symphony managers did not comment after the vote. The two sides have been negotiating since June. Management has said the musicians’ requests for a raise are unreasonable – and they could eventually force the symphony out of business. Clay doesn’t see it that way.
“We consider ourselves a world class orchestra, and that’s a term that’s been thrown around by our management,” Clay said. “That this is a world class institution. We’re very concerned with the direction they’re going threatens to turn it into a world class institution with no orchestra and musicians.”
Many of the symphony patrons heading into Friday night’s show, had music on their minds, not a potential strike. Mike Lacki has had season tickets for a decade.
“We’d be disappointed that we’d miss any shows,” Lacki said. “I’m opposed to strikes in general, but I’m sympathetic with the orchestra and I would hope that the board would have enough common sense to deal fairly with the orchestra and give them what they deserve and what they earn.”
The musicians voted earlier last week to authorize a strike, but have not set a deadline or a strike date.