San Francisco Symphony Musicians Vote to Authorize Strike

Carnegie Hall Performances Could Be Affected

Friday, March 08, 2013 - 09:00 AM

San Francisco Symphony San Francisco Symphony (Bill Swerbenski)

Musicians in the San Francisco Symphony, frustrated with bargaining over a new contract, voted to authorize a strike on Wednesday night. The vote comes just before a scheduled East Coast tour which includes two performances at Carnegie Hall.

The orchestra's 105 musicians have been without a contract since Feb. 15, when an extension of the existing one expired.

The sticking points are largely over pay. Management has demanded wage freezes for the first year of a contract, as well as health and pension plan changes. Musicians that say that the orchestra enjoys a healthy endowment of $239 million and its executive director, Brent Assink, has seen substantial pay increases and bonuses. Management contends that San Francisco is among the top three highest paid orchestras in the country. In 2008, Assink was earning $456,179; musicians' average salary is $165,000.

The two sides are working with a federal mediator.

A strike would force cancellation of performances at Carnegie Hall on March 20 and 21, the first of which WQXR is scheduled to broadcast live. Performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC would also be affected. The authorization recalls a similar tipping point last fall when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians went on strike weeks before the orchestra's opening-night concert at Carnegie Hall; that standoff was quickly resolved.


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Comments [3]

Reid Condit from San Francisco

I don't think the SF Examiner has reported this strike vote either. I'm wondering whether SF's lefty weekly, the Bay Guardian, recently acquired by the Examiner, will cover the strike next Wednesday when its issue is due out. But even if it does provide coverage, will I be able to find a copy? I have been unable to find a Guardian in over a month. Prior to the Examiner's takeover, copies of the Guardian were plentiful, but like the Chonicle's boxes these days, Guardian boxes tend to be empty these days.

Mar. 10 2013 06:28 AM
L. Spaceman

I hope this gets resolved!! I am supposed to be seeing Mahler 9 on the 21st; I might cry if it is cancelled!

Mar. 08 2013 07:48 PM
Jo Gray from San Francisco

Why is this story absent from the San Francisco Chronicle? Articles about it are published in the Sac Bee, Chicago Sun-Times but nothing in the Chronicle?
Perhaps management doesn't want the SFSO subscribers to know it is happening?

Mar. 08 2013 03:22 PM

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