Jacksonville Symphony, musicians at impasse

Orchestra's board of directors implements nearly 20% pay cut for musicians

Headline Goes Here Photo by Paul Witkowski

Ten days before its new season is to begin, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra has alerted ticket holders that contract talks with the musicians' union have broken down.

The contract with Local 444 of the American Federation of Musicians expired Sept. 2 ,and the symphony's board of directors on Tuesday declared an impasse and said it would implement its last offer: a pay cut of nearly 20 percent for the orchestra's 53 core players.

"In five consecutive proposals, the musicians demanded pay raises even though the Symphony is facing enormous operating losses," a statement on JSO's website reads. "At this point we do not know whether our season will open as scheduled on September 28."

On the union's website, the Jacksonville Symphony Players' Association Negotiating Committee wrote that the musician took a minimum of $10,000 pay cut seven years ago, then worked four years without any increase and only had a small increase the last two years. 

"Musicians are not unwilling to play a part in cutting costs," the musicians' negotiators wrote. "In fact, we have learned that the largest pay reduction even being unverifiably claimed for staff stands at 10 percent, with several taking smaller reductions and many none at all. The musicians' new proposal will save the JSA $364,859 in the first year alone –- more than the $300,000 ... the JSA sought in concessions."

Channel 4 was told the symphony musicians were to have an emergency meeting to discuss their options, but the time and place were not made public.

The symphony says they have no intention of locking out the musicians, but they don't know if it they will work if no contract is worked out in the next week.

"At this point we do not know whether our season will open as scheduled on September 28," according to the symphony's website. "In the event that a concert is cancelled, and you have tickets, we will notify you by email, regular mail, or telephone."

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