Musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra are demanding to know why the ASO won’t end the lockout now that they have conceded the last sticking point. The only conclusion one can draw is that the WAC and ASO enjoy inflicting pain.
Since the acting ASO chief exec is a retired Coca-cola executive, I suggest we all stop drinking Coke until the dispute is decently settled.
Atlanta, GA, October 31, 2014
Four days ago, the Musicians made a new proposal to the Woodruff Arts Center that balances the stated needs of the WAC/ASO leadership while meeting the need to ensure the survival of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra has been in a world of hurt since the deep salary and benefit cuts of 2012, and there are numerous losses within the ranks needed to produce the ASO’s programs with the sound that made the Orchestra famous and won Atlanta 27 Grammy awards.
Every aspect of the Musicians’ proposal provides significant savings for the WAC/ASO, while keeping it on a narrow path toward desperately needed restoration. The ASO has had up to 95 Musicians, and has been cut back to 76, even though the current contract calls for 88 players. The Musicians temporarily gave up positions, and now need to replace them. The Musicians’ proposal embodies flexibility and true willingness to reach an agreement, replacing the positions gradually over time. Notable aspects include:
- An extended stabilization period – sought by the WAC/ASO management – offering to maintain the current complement size of 77 for the duration of the first year, and flexibility in arriving at a guaranteed complement number of 88 Musicians by the end of the fourth year.
- No individual Musician gains a penny in their fight to keep what the ASO and every other major orchestra in the United States and the world has: a fixed minimum number of musicians large enough to perform the music of a full symphony orchestra.
- A tentative agreement regarding healthcare involves the musicians offering to move to a high deductible plan – a major change from the current health insurance plan – ensuring annual savings of over a quarter of a million dollars for the WAC.
- No agreement has been reached on the modest incremental salary increases that the Musicians proposed. If agreed, Musician salaries would still not reach pre-2012 levels by the end of the four-year contract in 2018.
Having addressed the stated needs of the Woodruff Arts Center to continue the stabilization period begun in 2012, the ATL Symphony Musicians call on the WAC to accept their latest offer, end the lockout of the musicians, and put the award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra back on stage for its 70th anniversary season.