Baltimore scraps musicians’ health and disability care

Baltimore scraps musicians’ health and disability care


norman lebrecht

June 23, 2019

A meeting between Baltimore Symphony management and locked-out musicians on Friday ended inconclusively after the musicians discovered their insurance had been cut off.

Here’s how the musicians see it:
BSO management refused to budge at today’s bargaining session. They insisted on their lockout and not providing us with health care. Not only that, we learned that our Long Term Disability (LTD) coverage had been canceled as of June 17. Remember that every week that the musicians are locked out, the BSO is saving about $250,000 by not paying us and not providing us with health insurance.

The BSO is seeking to enforce a 20 percent pay cut and 42-week year.

The management blame the musicians for the stalemate:

“We remain disappointed that there has been no meaningful counterproposal that addresses the urgent financial issues our organization is facing since negotiations began last year,” said BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome. “If the BSO is going to survive, our business model needs to change. We will continue to work with our musicians as we navigate this change and prepare for a future that is strong and vibrant.”


  • Alphonse P Lighthighzer says:

    Do they mean health care or health insurance? Having the latter may not necessarily enable the former, due to trifles like copays (30%) and deductibles ($5000-10000 p.a.).

  • barry guerrero says:


  • viola fan says:


  • Anonanon says:

    I get going to a lock out over the salary involved in a full season versus what is proposed… but letting their health insurance lapse is just irresponsible and immoral. They better hope there is no emergency.

  • fflambeau says:

    Sounds like a “meeting” just to give management the opportunity to posture.

  • fflambeau says:

    Good article here that explains much more about the situation in Baltimore:

    “BSO management claims that the orchestra has lost more than $16 million over the past decade. Rather than drawing on its $60 million endowment or appealing to the state of Maryland for additional funding, management is taking aim at the musicians’ living standards. Of note, the chair of the BSO Board of Directors is Barbara Bozzuto, married to Thomas Bozzuto, chairman and co-founder of the Bozzuto Group, a major residential real estate developer in Maryland. According to the company’s website, it generates $500 million in annual revenue. These are the social layers targeting one of Baltimore’s few remaining cultural institutions.

    Negotiations between the BSO and the union for the musicians, Local 40-543 of the American Federation of Musicians, resumed on Friday. At these negotiations the musicians learned that, in addition to receiving no pay and no health insurance as of June 30, their long-term disability insurance was canceled by BSO management on June 17 and that, effective September 1, the board will cancel their life insurance policies. Musicians are asking for a 2 percent cost-of-living raise and argue that management could easily afford this by drawing from the endowment.

    Increased state funding would also be an avenue to provide adequate funding for the musicians, whose base salary is about $83,000 a year. However, as with other social welfare or cultural needs, sufficient state funding for the symphony is not forthcoming. While earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation providing a meager $1.6 million for the BSO in the 2020 fiscal year budget, which begins July 1, and another $1.6 million for the following year, Governor Larry Hogan has said he is unlikely to release even these funds. That amount would cover more than half the musicians’ salary and benefits for the summer months.

    Hogan told the Baltimore Sun, “We continually pour millions and millions of dollars into the BSO, but they’ve got real serious issues and problems with the management, with losing the support of their donor base and the legislature took the money out of the budget and fenced it off.” Source:

    • The View from America says:

      More like a good “opinion piece” — brought to you by the World Socialist News Website whose byline is “Marxist analysis, international working class struggles & the fight for socialism.”

      If BSO musicians are attempting to change perceptions, this isn’t the way to go about it.

    • mathias broucek says:

      Seriously? The fact that the chair of the BSO Board of Directors has a well-off husband is not relevant.

    • Barry says:

      You are quoting the “World Socialist Website” for objective analysis? They are a proud Trotsky organization!

  • Luigi Nonono says:

    A sixty million endowment should be providing at least five million dollars a year to spend, more than enough to pay all the musicians, plus the ones missing.