Fort Worth Symphony musicians go on strike amid contract negotiations

Musicians with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra are on strike after rejecting a contract their union reps had tentatively agreed to.

The symphony pointed out it faces a $700,000 operating budget deficit. It’s asking the musicians to help preserve the orchestra's future. But as seen by the strike underway Thursday night, the musicians do not agree.

“The current cuts we've been asked to accept would rank us 33rd out of the top 50 orchestras in this country, 20,000 below the national average,” said Bassoonist Cara Owens.

The symphony says the latest contract rejected by the musicians would’ve seen principal musicians making over $70,000 by 2020. However, the first two years of the deal amounts to a pay cut for the most of the artists. 

The symphony has indicated it's baffled by the musicians' decision to strike since it says a tentative agreement was reached last week with the musicians own bargaining team.

"They're baffled? We've been talking about growth and how serious we are about this for 14 months,” said Musicians Association President Stewart Williams. “Lots of our audience is behind us.”

In the meantime, ticketholders learn the season-opening concerts are canceled.

"I don't think there’s enough transparency,” said season ticketholder Michael Urbach. “I'd pay more money."

Mayor Betsey Price said in a statement: "This situation is tough for all sides because even though it is a private organization. These actions impact our community in such tangible ways. I hope that they will be able to come back to the table and sort this out for the good of our community."

The union’s spokesman said they were hoping for a chance at salvaging Friday night's and this weekend's performances if the symphony would agree to something acceptable. But they say there is no indication that will be happening anytime soon.

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