The contract dispute that has split the management and musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra show no signs of being resolved.
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Association and the union representing the musicians said in statements Saturday a return to the bargaining table met with no progress but plenty of posturing.
The association was “dumfounded that [the musicians union] did not submit a proposal today,” symphony association President Amy Adkins said in a statement. “We are also deeply disappointed that the union refused to engage in collaborative solutions that take into account our financial condition and the long-term future of the institution.”
Countered the musicians in a statement of their own:
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“It was our hope that management would return to the table with the purpose of cutting through damaging rhetoric and coming to real solutions to keep the orchestra strong and growing,” said Negotiating Committee Chair Dan Sigale. “We believe the solutions are there if management is ready to work with us.”
Musicians, represented by the American Federation of Musicians Local 72-147, and management have been in contract negotiations for more than 15 months with both sides far apart when it came to wages and benefits. The proposal that musicians recently rejected included a significant pay cut in the first year with small incremental raises during the next three years of the deal.
Orchestra management has said the organization continues to deal with annual budget deficits of more than $700,000 and cannot afford to increase musicians’ pay. The union has maintained that the rejected contract would keep musicians at pay rates lower than they earn today.
“The union and management agree that Fort Worth wants its orchestra back, and we want nothing more than the musicians to end their strike and return to work,” Adkins said in the statement. “However, our ideas of how to accomplish this are in direct opposition. The association maintains that the only solution is through a combination of growth and cuts, not growth alone. Growth and cuts are not mutually exclusive.”
The association said its final offer Sept. 7 would have included a plan in which the association would increase revenue by $1.8 million over the four-year contract through “a variety of strategies to build audiences and increase contributions.”
In contrast, the association said, the concessions requested from the musicians would have saved the association about $530,000 over four years.
As a result of the seven-week strike, the association said Saturday, the musicians have already sacrificed wages totaling the entire four years of concessions that the association requested.
In its statement, the union said it was open to more talks.
“We told the management that we were ready to get back to the table as soon as possible,” said union President Stewart Williams, also in a statement. “They owe it to our audiences and the Fort Worth community to make this effort toward collaboration.”
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.