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Tentative Deal at the Cleveland Orchestra

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This morning, there's word of a tentative deal between management and the Cleveland Orchestra players, after the musicians went on strike yesterday.

Details of the proposed deal are not yet public, but The New York Times is reporting that an agreement has been struck which requires ratification from the musicians and the orchestra board.

Yesterday, The Associated Press quoted oboist Jeffrey Rathbun as saying he and the other orchestra musicians were "sorely disappointed" management hadn't acknowledged sacrifices they'd made in their last two contracts or their offer to continue to work for the next contract year with no increase in salary or benefits.

"We understand that these are unprecedented economic times in America and that all arts organizations are feeling the brunt of the recession with a decline in attendance, in annual giving and in their endowments," the musicians wrote in their blog. "We are being told by our management that we have to accept a cut in both salary and benefits, because they have shown their willingness to share in the financial sacrifice."

The contract between the musicians and management expired last summer. The strike began Sunday night at midnight, effectively canceling planned trips to Indiana University and to Miami.

Last March, the orchestra said it would reduce pay, leave six positions unfilled and scale back artistic initiatives to save money. The orchestra's board of trustees said it recognized the musicians' incredible artistry but that it was committed to "ongoing prudent cost control."

Many statements of support for the players are posted on the musicians' blog, including a letter Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) sent to the Cleveland Orchestra's board and to the orchestra's parent organization, the Musical Arts Association.

"I strongly oppose any effort by the Musical Arts Association to force the musicians of the Cleveland Orchestra to take an unreasonable and unwarranted 5% pay cut following already significant reductions in their health care and retirement plans," Kucinich (D-OH) wrote.

The strike is the first work stoppage at the Cleveland Orchestra in 30 years, according to The New York Times.

UPDATE SINCE THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST POSTED: This article was updated at 9:25 AM to reflect a tentative deal between the players and orchestra management.