San Francisco Symphony’s belt-tightening move parallels national trends

Posted on: March 25, 2013

On the front page of Monday’s (3/25) Wall Street Journal, Vauhini Vara writes, “A strike by musicians at the San Francisco Symphony is the latest in a string of labor disputes at U.S. orchestras, whose finances have been hit by slowing attendance and the recession’s aftermath. Musicians Union Local 6, which represents the orchestra’s 103 musicians, went on strike on March 13. After negotiations stalled over the following weekend, the symphony canceled an East Coast tour that would have included performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Management’s latest contract offer, covering 26 months, would freeze musicians’ salaries in the current year, followed by raises of 1% and 2% in the following year and five months. The offer also seeks to increase musicians’ retirement age and change their health-care benefits. Union members, who earn a minimum annual salary of $141,700, are seeking larger raises, said violist David Gaudry, chairman of the union’s bargaining committee. … ‘The recession has put real pressure on us,’ said Oliver Theil, a management spokesman. Operating expenses for the year ending August 2012 of $79.2 million outstripped its $78.3 million in revenue. … Meanwhile, a smaller share of Americans are going to classical-music concerts, and many who do attend are visiting less often, instead of buying season passes, said Jesse Rosen, chief executive officer of the League of American Orchestras.”


Posted March 25, 2013