LSM Newswire

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra musiciansĺ─˘ union negotiations stalled

CLEVELAND, January 6, 2010 - The negotiations between The Cleveland Orchestra and the union representing its musician employees (Local 4 of the American Federation of Musicians) ended today without a settlement, and no future meetings are scheduled.  The Orchestraĺ─˘s musicians had been working under a month-to-month contract extension since September.  Last month, the union formally terminated the extension agreement, and has now indicated that the musicians could strike as early as January 18.  

Management is seeking short-term concessions in the negotiations.  The union has been offered a three-year contract in which the base scale portion of their compensation would be reduced by 5% in the first year, with a restoration in the second year, and a 2.5% increase in the third year.  The unionĺ─˘s proposal is for an eight-month contract at their current levels of compensation and benefits.

In 2009, the average compensation for a member of The Cleveland Orchestra was $152,000 in wages, seniority, overtime, media rights, and other payments.  Median compensation was $140,200.  The proposal made today would reduce the median compensation to $134,100 in the first year.  Benefits include 10 weeks paid vacation and 26 weeks paid sick leave.  The official work week is 20 hours.  Among the cities with the top ten orchestras, Cleveland has the lowest cost of living.

To address the current recession, The Cleveland Orchestra was the first major Cleveland arts institution to launch across-the-board cost reductions.  Establishing a principle of shared sacrifice, Music Director Franz Welser-MłĆst and Executive Director Gary Hanson volunteered reductions in compensation of 20% and 15% respectively, followed by reductions of up to 10% for all other employees.

Cleveland Orchestra Executive Director Gary Hanson stated, ĺ─˙We need the union to recognize the shared sacrifice throughout the institution and respond in kind.ĺ─¨
In 2009, Trustees increased their donations over the previous year by 8%, while guest artists, suppliers, and professional service providers also voluntarily reduced their fees.  The budget for the current fiscal year 2009-10 has been reduced to $42.3 million, including annual cost-cutting of more than $2 million overall.

Cleveland Orchestra ticket sales and other locally earned revenues fell by 5% in the 2008-09 fiscal year to $11.9 million from $12.5 million in the previous year.  Corporate and foundation contributions to the Orchestra declined by more than 20% from $4.9 million to $3.8 million.  In 2009, the Orchestraĺ─˘s endowment investments fell to their lowest value in more than a decade, to $97.2 million from $124.4 million the previous year. The unfunded liability in the institutionĺ─˘s defined-benefit pension plan increased to $18.6 million, up from $4.3 million the previous year.  



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