News and Features

The 'Last Offer' from the Fort Worth Symphony Comes Monday — Unless Negotiations Work

Mediation between the Fort Worth Symphony and the American Federation of Musicians’ local 72-147 will resume tomorrow with Commissioner David Renfro of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service present in an attempt to reach a contract settlement. The rocky negotiations began in June, and the musicians have been without a contract since August 1.

The symphony’s CEO Anne Koonsman sent a “last, best and final” offer that management says will be imposed Monday:  musicians’ annual minimum pay would be reduced by 19% and the season would shrink by nine weeks (52 weeks to 43 weeks). The union’s latest press release says it offered to freeze salaries and benefits at current levels for two years, with additional concessions. (This iseems different from what local president Ray Hair told the Star-Telegram last week:  “At mediation, the musicians made a counteroffer, requesting a 2.5 percent “cost of living” increase from current wage levels this year, and another 2.5 percent hike next year, said Ray Hair, the local’s president.”)

In any event, the two parties’ differences have already led to a silent protest before a concert, and everyone in the classical music world is a little jumpy with a one-day strike in Cleveland earlier this year and the bitter, ongoing Detroit Symphony strike, which has brought the concert season there mostly to a halt the past two and a half weeks.

“There’s nothing like seeing someone else unleash the dogs to see where you don’t want to go,” said Drew McManus, a Chicago-based arts consultant who follows orchestras closely.