By PAUL HODGENS/STAFF WRITER
Members of the Pacific Symphony have voted unanimously to reject the most recent contract offer presented by the orchestra’s management and reaffirm the strike authorization they previously had granted, the union for the musicians announced Thursday.
The two sides met for the last time on Oct. 18, said Pacific Symphony violist Adam Neeley, who serves as bargaining committee chairman for the musicians union.
“The main sticking points remain,” Neeley said. “They concern our desire to have a predictable schedule, a contract that gives us more employment and a guaranteed annual wage.”
He added that among 11 peer orchestras of similar size, the Pacific Symphony ranks at the bottom in the percentage of its budget allotted to musicians’ pay and benefits. The orchestra’s website lists 84 musicians among its members.
“We’ll perform on Sunday with Pacific Chorale,” Neeley said.
“We have a longstanding relationship with them and will respect that.”
But he warned that the “Home Alone” pops concerts scheduled for Nov. 10-11 could be affected.
Pacific Symphony management officials were unavailable for comment Thursday. The union’s announcement was issued shortly after the orchestra’s administrative offices had closed for the day.
Pacific Symphony president John Forsyte, who is out of town, sent a statement via email on Friday morning:
“Since its contract with the musicians union expired on Aug. 31, Pacific Symphony has continued to act in good faith to negotiate a new contract. Our offers have been designed to address union concerns about predictability of work and annual wages. The board maintains its commitment to a contract that provides stable and meaningful work for musicians while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the organization. For now, all programs will continue as scheduled.”
The terms proposed by the orchestra’s management are punitive, Neeley argued. To play the minimum number of guaranteed services in their contract, symphony musicians are required to turn down other jobs when they are “on call” for some services, Neeley said. In other words, they might not be used for certain events but must keep those dates open nonetheless.
“Musicians who expect to earn $34,807 in the 2016-17 season could only do so by sacrificing other work in order to keep their schedules clear, and would have no way of predicting when they would be called to work,” the orchestra committee said in an email released Thursday.
Pacific Symphony is unique among America’s 33 largest orchestras in its use of a per-service contract. All others guarantee their musicians an annual salary based on a weekly wage multiplied by an agreed-upon number of weeks of work.
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