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March 28, 2023IM -
The musicians of the San Francisco Symphony, members of Local 6 (San Francisco, CA), have been playing without a contract since their previous CBA expired in November. The orchestra has begun distributing informational leaflets in the lobby of Davies Symphony Hall before concerts. The leaflets argue for the importance of musicians’ salaries in maintaining the orchestra’s record of artistic excellence and urge patrons to contact the symphony’s CEO.
The dispute centers primarily on compensation, which became a concern during the pandemic shutdown. Management maintains that their contract offer is extremely competitive and the most the symphony can financially support.
In November 2020, the musicians agreed to a 30% pay cut; now, they are seeking a short-term, one-year contract at the salary level that the previous CBA would have reached, if not for the pandemic. Compounding the importance of salary is the fact that 21 musicians have retired or left the orchestra since 2020, in an expected generational shift that was escalated by the pandemic. Both musicians and management are aligned that compensation—especially in the Bay Area, with its high cost of living—will be a critical factor in the orchestra’s ability to attract top talent to fill its vacancies.