August 31, 2016

Contact: Adam Neeley


Pacific Symphony Orchestra and Musicians’ Union Break Off Contract Talks


(Santa Ana, CA) Representatives of Musicians’ Union, Local 7, AFM, representing musicians who perform with the Pacific Symphony, and representatives of the Pacific Symphony ended the day with no agreement and no further talks scheduled. The current Agreement expires August 31, 2016.

Representatives have been in negotiations for a successor agreement since this past July. The Agreement, which sets forth the wages and other terms and conditions of musicians’ employment, does not provide for a guarantee of weekly or annual wages and musicians are paid a wage rate (per service) when they are hired to perform.

According to Musicians’ Bargaining Committee Chairperson and violist Adam Neeley, “The Pacific Symphony is the only professional orchestra in the United States with any significant annual budget that does not provide a weekly wage or annual guarantee of wages to its musicians.” Neeley states further, “Musicians have no predictability of their income from week to week, month to month or year to year.”

According to Neeley, “A per-service structured orchestra is not unusual. What is unusual is that the Pacific Symphony has an annual budget of approximately $20 million dollars. Orchestras with budgets of Pacific Symphony’s level, even budgets half this size, guarantee musicians a livable weekly and annual wage.


“The Pacific Symphony is 37 years old and has never had a wage guarantee beyond the wage musicians receive for each rehearsal or performance. While this method has worked for many years, the Pacific Symphony has outgrown its current structure. If measures are not initiated to move towards guarantees, the musicians fear that current members will continue to move on to other orchestras which have predictable salaries and Pacific Symphony will not be a destination (or even a stop along the way) for musicians seeking employment,” says Local 7 President Bob Sanders. “Given the high cost of living in Southern California and particularly Orange County, why would anyone move their life and family to such an area with no guarantee of income? They are guaranteed a great musical experience working with great musicians, but that doesn’t assure they can afford to pay the rent each month!”


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