A bad situation grows worse.
From Oliver Theil, SFS Director of Communications (the musicians issued their own statement as well):
The Musicians of the San Francisco Symphony have rejected a federal mediator’s proposal to resume playing concerts during a “cooling off” period while negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement continue. The Symphony’s administration was willing to abide by the federal mediator’s recommendation, based on developments over the past three days of talks.
As a result of the musicians’ continuing work stoppage, the orchestra’s three-city East Coast tour on March 20-23 will not go forward. The tour was set to include performances at Carnegie Hall March 20 and 21, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on March 22, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on March 23. The ongoing five-day musicians’ strike has already forced cancellations of four concerts in San Francisco.
Over the past three days of lengthy negotiations, overseen by a federal mediator, the musicians’ union rejected the latest administration proposals and continued their strike.
Several proposals by the administration have been rejected by the musicians’ union. The most recent proposal offered increases in musician compensation to achieve a new annual minimum salary of $145,979 with annual increases of 1% and 2% for the latest two-year proposal. Contractual benefits also included a $74,000 maximum annual pension, 10 weeks paid vacation, and full coverage health care plan options with no monthly premium contributions for musicians and their families for three of the four options. Additional compensation for most active musicians also includes radio payments, over-scale, and seniority pay which raises the current average pay for SFS musicians to over $165,000.
“We are deeply disappointed that the musicians have continued to reject proposals for a new agreement and that the musicians will not proceed with our planned East Coast tour,” said Brent Assink, Executive Director of the San Francisco Symphony. “We have negotiated in good faith since September, have shared volumes of financial information, and have offered many different proposals that we had hoped would lead to a new agreement by this time. We will continue to work hard to resolve this situation.”
In the current economic environment, the San Francisco Symphony is facing the same challenges that many other orchestras and arts organizations around the country are facing. For all four years of its most recent collective bargaining agreement with its musicians, operating expenses have outpaced operating income. The Orchestra has incurred an operating deficit in each of those years.
As a non-profit organization, the Symphony’s financial statements are audited annually by an independent certified public accounting firm. These statements and related tax filings are publicly available in accordance with the law. Since negotiations began, the administration has been cooperative in sharing financial records and responded to the union’s requests for information in a timely manner. Since September, that includes over 50 formal requests for which over 500 pages of documentation were provided.
The administration has also offered to cooperate with third party financial consultants designated by the musicians to review the audited financial statements. In addition, the administration had offered the musicians the opportunity to have two members join the organization’s Audit Committee of the Board of Governors.
The administration remains willing to continue negotiations with the musicians’ union under the auspices of a federal mediator in an effort to achieve a mutually agreeable contract. The administration will continue to work with the musicians to respond to requests for information, including requests about the Symphony's finances.
Today's rejection of the administration’s latest proposal also represents the latest in a series of delays by the musicians’ union in working with the administration on an agreement. While the administration provided its first proposal October 15, 2012 and offered six subsequent proposals, the musicians’ union did not formally respond to any administration proposal until mid-January 2013. The union did not formally respond to any of this information until just over 60 days ago, weeks after the November 24, 2013 expiration of the four-year contract.
Patrons with tickets to the performances in New York, New Jersey and Washington DC should contact their local box office for information on refunds.