BACK TO THE FUTURE
Management for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra agreed on Nov. 11 to a new five-year contract with the ensemble's 46 musicians. Terms were announced last Wednesday in a press release. The agreement comes five months the orchestra had for the first time in years finished its fiscal year, 2006-2007, with an operational surplus: more than $296,000.
At the end of the previous year, according to federal tax documents, the CSO was in the red by more than $179,000. This was the case despite a sizable pay cut on the part of musicians in 2003 in an effort to keep the orchestra afloat. The 18 percent cut, in effect for three years, has since been restored. Musicians are getting ahead with the new deal. It calls for a nearly 3 percent salary increase over the next season with the same percentage increase annually through 2011-2012. According to a June Post and Courier report, the CSO's board had raised $500,000 during a fund-raising campaign that became in November 2006. —John Stoehr
On the same day (Nov. 14) of the CSO's announcement, the Florida Times-Union reported that management for the Jacksonville Symphony locked out its 52 musicians after the two parties could not agree to the terms of a new five-year labor contract. Last weekend's performances were canceled and the rest of the season will be determined week to week. It's the first time the orchestra has stopped in its 57-year history.
Management drafted a new five-year contract that was nearly $200,000 less than the previous contract. The cut would come from reduced pension contributions. In effect, though, a pay cut. Management, according to board chairman Jim Van Vleck, is trying to save the orchestra and needs the musicians' help. The symphony has reported a deficit for eight of the past 10 years, amounting to $3 million of debt. Musicians say they already sacrificed. They took pay cuts in 2002 and 2004. Van Vleck, meanwhile, asked what musicians are complaining about?
"There's something about a 37-week year and 20 hours a week that doesn't seem too onerous," he told the newspaper. —John Stoehr