Montreal Symphony musician contract talks at a standstill

Posted on: August 15, 2011

In Saturday’s (8/13) Montreal Gazette, Arthur Kaptainis writes about musician contract talks at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, where, he says, little progress seems to have been made. ‘To hazard an answer to the first question most people ask: There will be no disruption of the Sept. 7 opening of the new hall. … The players (all members of the Quebec Musicians’ Guild, Local 406 of the American Federation of Musicians) have made occasional mention of pressure tactics, without specifying any. … My guess is that the tactics will start in earnest after the celebratory first two weeks in the new hall. Unless, of course, there is a settlement. The struggle now is almost purely monetary. Both sides have plausible arguments to marshal. The players, making a minimum of $72,128, say they should enjoy parity with their colleagues at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, who make at least $80,214, and for a shorter season. Sounds fair. Management contends that professionals in many areas earn less than their Toronto counterparts and that the metropolis to the west offers ‘a much larger population base, greater corporate support and collective prosperity.’ Sounds true. … One element of the debate that cannot be ignored is the power of the marketplace. The MSO competes with other ensembles, including American orchestras, for players. If salaries fall behind, the MSO will attract the second-best.”

Posted August 15, 2011