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December 1, 2015IM -
The musicians of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra (HSO) have renewed their call for the management of HSO to share in the sacrifice they are asking of the musicians, according to violinist Michael Pollard, spokesperson for the musicians and a member of Local 400 (Hartford, CT). In January, management’s initial proposal to the union proposed wage cuts of up to 40%, as well as onerous changes in work rules, which would inhibit musicians’ ability to earn a living wage. The union’s counterproposal that asked for shared sacrifice from all areas of management and staff. Management rejected and continues to reject any proposal from the musicians that contains shared sacrifice.
In 2007, the organization found itself with extreme financial challenges and brought in industry expert Tom Morris, to help formulate a plan to deal with the challenges. Morris said that all of the constituents of the organization needed to contribute towards solving the financial problem. In doing their part, the musicians agreed to $300,000 in cuts as part of a three-year contract. Despite these concessions, musicians were asked to reopen their contract two more times over the next 18 months, each time giving additional concessions in wages and numbers of musicians. A key component of the Morris solution was the HSO Board’s agreement to launch a $10 million endowment campaign. Eight years later, the HSO Board has failed to live up to their promise, which precipitated this latest call for cuts to the musicians.
The AFM and Local 400 filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for failure to issue contracts to the musicians by its May 1 deadline. In November, the NLRB sided with the union, which resulted in HSO reaching a settlement with US labor officials in which it agreed to issue contracts to musicians for the current year.