Two years ago, musicians in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra took a $14,000 pay cut to help cover a projected deficit of $1.5 million.
The musicians were assured this was a one-off sacrifice in extraordinary circumstances. Now they are being asked for further pay and job cuts. Their contract expires Saturday night. The management, led by Stanley Romanstein, is threatening a lockout.
However, it has now emerged in the negotiating room that Stanley Romanstein posted a deficit of $2,786,000 in financial year 2013, almost twice as much as the $1.5 million he’d predicted. The loss was caused by Romanstein’s failure to manage the budget and raise donations.
Romanstein, a stranger to humility, is demanding that musicians give up their jobs and part of their health care to pay for his shortcomings. He has rejected an appeal by the orchestra’s music director and principal guest conductor to avert an ‘unhealthy’ situation.
That’s what the Atlanta dispute is really about. It’s quite black and white.
(picture from the 2012 dispute)
UPDATE: Statement tonight by the musicians:
Atlanta, GA September 4, 2014
The current contract of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musicians expires at midnight on Saturday September 6, 2014. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players Association has been engaged in negotiations with ASO management for the last eight months.
Two years ago, the ASO musicians took a $14,000 annual pay cut. The musicians agreed to this because the ASO and Woodruff Arts Center (WAC) management stated that they needed this concession in order to balance the budget, and to create a new business model for the ASO.
The musicians were assured that this cut was a one-time only concession that would be met in equal measure by additional fundraising. CEO Stanley Romanstein has failed to raise the funding necessary to balance the budget. Meanwhile, the WAC rewarded him with a new three-year contract, despite a catastrophic failure to reach budgeted goals during FY13.
It is important to remember this: The ASO musicians account for only a quarter of the ASO’s budget, and once again, the management of the ASO and the WAC are demanding that every single musician shoulders thousands of dollars in additional concessions.