Tensions between the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and its musicians reached fortissimo this week as management threatened to implement a concessionary contract and the union talks of a strike.
Friday afternoon, musicians will vote to accept or reject the latest contract offer. If they accept the three-year deal, wages will be cut. If they reject it, management says, it will enforce the contract Monday — a measure it says is necessary to keep the orchestra afloat.
With the threat of an imposed contract, the musicians, represented by the American Federation of Musicians Local 72-147, authorized a strike this week.
Their demands would force us out of business in a short period, a short period of time being two years or sooner.
Orchestra President and CEO Amy Adkins
“We do not want the orchestra to strike. It would be a devastating blow to the symphony,” said orchestra President and CEO Amy Adkins, noting that the symphony has operated with a deficit for five years. “But we cannot cave to their demands in order to avoid a strike because their demands would force us out of business in a short period, a short period of time being two years or sooner.”
The orchestra recently canceled its planned six-city tour of Spain, and Adkins said the symphony has projected deficit of $650,000 for the current season.
Talks between the two sides began in June, about a month before the musicians’ contract expired. The orchestra continued to perform while negotiations were ongoing, but after the first of the year, the parties clearly had not made any progress.
[They should be] … not balancing the budget on the backs of the very people that are the orchestra.
Union Secretary-Treasurer Stewart Williams
Union Secretary-Treasurer Stewart Williams said musicians want to keep bargaining with management but want to see accountability from Adkins and a plan for the orchestra to grow and move forward.
Management should be “nurturing it and not balancing the budget on the backs of the very people that are the orchestra,” Williams said.
The vote is set for 4:30 p.m., three hours before the symphony’s scheduled “Night at the Oscars” pops concert at Bass Hall.
Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @andreaahles