After two more days of contract negotiations with Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra management this week, musicians said some progress was made.
A musicians’ union representative said on Wednesday that the union had not received a response to the latest revised salary proposal.
“Musicians presented a second financial counterproposal, and we are awaiting management’s response,” Kenneth Krause, head of Local 72-147 of the American Federation of Musicians, said in an email. He did not provide details of the union’s proposal.
“We continue to make some progress but are concerned that we still see no evidence of a comprehensive plan for growth,” he said.
In an email to the Star-Telegram on Thursday, Amy Adkins, CEO and president of the orchestra, disputed that symphony administrators are not seeking “growth.”
“The FWSO administrative staff consists of skilled professionals who work diligently to produce concerts, reach new audiences, and attract new donors. Last season, our efforts resulted in 14 percent growth in ticket sales and 7 percent growth in contributions,” she said.
“We are also committed to artistic excellence and maintaining the world-class orchestra that has been built through the generosity of this community. This is why more than 46 percent of every dollar raised goes directly to support the salaries and benefits of our fine musicians, well above the national average.
“However, the Association’s primary focus right now is to address a history of structural deficits, triggered by the recession, in order to stabilize our budget,” she continued. “Growth begins with viability, and there is no viability without a plan for a sustainable future.”
Negotiations are scheduled to resume on Nov. 17.
The musicians have been playing without a contract since July 31. They originally requested a $3.5 million increase over three years to make up for a 13.5 percent salary cut in 2010, of which about 5 percent has been restored. They later revised the proposal by offering to delay the hikes for 12 months.
Instead of an increase, the orchestra’s administrators responded with a reduction from 46 paid weeks to 43. They maintain that represents a 6.5 percent cut, while the musicians say it is 23 percent with inflation factored in.
The union has ramped up its campaign to win support from the public, insisting that the Fort Worth Symphony lags behind peers in fund-raising at a time, they say, when the regional economy is thriving.
After distributing flyers to concert goers, launching a social media campaign using the hashtag #growthnotcuts and walking off stage briefly before a fall performance, a member of the string section got a rousing audience response before the Oct. 24 concert when he made a direct appeal from the Bass Hall stage.
“Five years ago the musicians took a significant pay cut,” Scott Jessup, assistant principal violist and a musician union spokesperson said that night. “Now the president and board want to cut even more. … Going backward is not the Fort Worth way. …”
The audience responded with a standing ovation.