Fort Worth

Striking Fort Worth musicians, symphony reach tentative agreement

Fort Worth Symphony musicians go on strike, putting upcoming shows at risk

Walkout comes after years of back and forth negotiations with symphony management over compensation
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Walkout comes after years of back and forth negotiations with symphony management over compensation

After a three-month strike and a more than yearlong contract dispute, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and its musicians have reached a tentative agreement to strike up the music again.

The new contract, which is pending a musicians’ union vote Wednesday, was agreed upon after two days of federal mediation between orchestra management and the American Federation of Musicians Local 72-147, according to identical statements released by both groups.

The statements also said that “no further details regarding the agreement will be disclosed prior to the ratification.” Officials for the symphony and the union did not immediately return calls for comment Saturday night.

The musicians went on strike Sept. 8, and management has canceled concerts through the end of the year.

The musicians and FWSO Association have been trying to negotiate a new contract for more than a year. In September, the musicians rejected a contract proposal from management that included a pay cut in the first year of the contract followed by smaller raises in subsequent years.

The union has asked for pay raises, and the symphony management has said it is operating with a $700,000 annual deficit and cannot afford to increase musicians’ salaries.

The performances that were canceled included the popular “Home for the Holidays” program Nov. 25-27, the Dec. 2 presentation of Handel’s Messiah, a night with trumpeter Chris Botti and the “New Year’s Eve: A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald” concert to end the year.

A holiday concert in Southlake and performances in Mansfield and Stephenville were also canceled.

When the cancellations were announced in late October, union President Stewart Williams said the union felt that management prematurely canceled concerts that were more than two months away.

“The cancellations show that they are not interested in and not overly concerned about the damage this is doing, “ Williams said in an interview.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3