Hartford Symphony Orchestra Musicians Agree to Pay, Benefits Cuts

Hartford Symphony Orchestra musicians have agreed to pay and benefits cuts over the next four seasons, according to the union representing the performers. 

This announcement comes after the organization said shutting down was possible amid contract talks with the musicians union

The musicians met Sunday night in Rocky Hill to talk about the proposed agreement and voted to accept the new contract, according to a news release from the union, Local 400 of the American Federation of Musicians. Under the new contract  proposed by the management and Board of Directors of the orchestra, the musicians agree to a 36 percent cut in salary and benefits over the next four seasons. 

“I’ve never been more proud of my colleagues,” said Steve Wade, negotiating committee member and assistant principal oboist Steve Wade. “Everyone present spoke with remarkable insight and passion on the issues, many of which will dramatically affect their lives. These artists are extraordinarily dedicated to their orchestra and their city.”

Before the collective bargaining agreement can go into effect, the symphony's board must approve it at a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 19. 

"We are thrilled that the musicians of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra have voted to approve our proposal presented on Thursday, January 14," Steve Collins, Hartford Symphony Orchestra director of artistic operations and administration said. "A new collective bargaining agreement with the American Federation of Musicians will be presented to the HSO Board of Directors’ this evening for their approval (Tuesday, January 19). A full announcement will be made on Wednesday, January 20."  

Jeff Verney, chairman of the symphony's Board of Directors, said last month that contributors are balking because the orchestra has not sufficiently restructured in "a more balanced way."

Officials previously said the orchestra, which is in its 72nd season, is undercapitalized and faces annual deficits of more than $1.3 million. A $2 million line of credit also is fully drawn.

Michael Pollard, a violinist and member of the American Federation of Musicians negotiating committee, previously said the symphony was looking for a 30 percent wage cut, down from 40 percent originally proposed. But he said that would not solve the symphony's financial problems.

Musicians had previously blamed a lack of fundraising as the principal reason for the problems.

More information about the symphony is available on the Hartford Symphony Orchestra's Facebook page

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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