After months of negotiations and 12 bargaining sessions, the musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony are facing essentially the same proposal from management that we received last summer. We took a 13.5% pay cut in 2010 and lost weeks, and now they want even more. Their current proposal is a cut from 46 full-time paid weeks to 39 full-time paid weeks plus a four-week “Summer Season”. With inflation factored in, this represents a total cut of 22.8% since 2010. We offered management a four-year proposal with yet another gesture of assistance to them: a freeze the first year. Even with this they are not budging.
Management is claiming record ticket sales and subscription growth, yet despite numerous requests for a formal plan to increase our budget or commence a capital campaign, we have received nothing. Notably, there is also a record turnover rate among the staff of the symphony.
Since 2008, Fort Worth has the fastest-growing economy in Texas and the sixth fastest-growing economy in the U.S. Our peer orchestras all over the country are raising millions of dollars and growing; however, since 2010 the budget of the FWSO has not only not grown, it has actually shrunk.
To demonstrate our solidarity and determination, the musicians have organized many actions. We presented a petition to our president calling for a plan that shows growth and increased fundraising. We gave a speech—received with a standing ovation!—to our audience outlining our situation before a symphonic subscription concert. We organized a “flash mob” performance of “Brazil” in downtown Fort Worth. The video of that performance, which can be seen on our Facebook page or on YouTube, has reached more than 25,000 people on Facebook as of this writing.
We will continue to fight for the future of our orchestra. Going backward is not the Fort Worth way. We are seeking a contract that includes growth, not cuts.