IBJNews

Another symphony contract deadline passes without a deal

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra musicians’ contract negotiations remain stalled and another week of concerts has been canceled after a Saturday deadline passed with no resolution.

ISO executives and American Federation of Musicians Local 3 negotiators have agreed to many of the financial details in a potential five-year agreement that management announced last week, but they're stuck on a clause that would allow early contract termination.

Musicians had until Saturday evening to decide on the offer.

As part of an agreement in principle, musicians would accept a 32-percent pay cut in the first year of the pact. Starting salaries would drop from $78,000 to $53,000. Pay then would increase every year, reaching $70,000 in year five.

At issue is a management-proposed clause that would allow either side to cancel the contract after the third year.

Use of the clause hinges on the ISO’s ability to boost its fundraising by millions of dollars every year.

The organization usually takes in about $6.5 million every year through its governing body, the Indiana Symphony Society, and a separate arm that manages its endowment, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Foundation.

ISO leaders last week outlined much more aggressive fundraising goals:  $9.8 million in the contract’s first year, $9.7 million the second year, $11 million the third year, $11.7 million the fourth year, and $12.6 the fifth year.

If the symphony collects $5 million by March 31, 2013, management said it will remove the escape clause from the contract.

“The board [of directors] has indicated a steep commitment to step up and find tens of millions of dollars to support the cost of operations over the course of the five years encompassed by the latest offer," board Chairman John Thornburgh said in a prepared statement. "But it only felt comfortable committing to the full extent of it if it could secure an initial showing of support from the community that they were willing to partner with the symphony.

“We all know the symphony is there. We only seek to harness that passion and ensure at least an initial showing of dollars will be there, too.”

The musicians' union is worried management will exercise the out clause, regardless of fundraising results, to terminate the contract before restoring pay to the proposed year-five level, lead negotiator Richard Graef said last week. Starting pay at year three would be $60,000.

Management locked out musicians on Sept. 8, saying the organization could no longer afford its 2009 contract, which expired Sept. 2.

The group has canceled five shows so far this season because of the work stoppage.

Stock market-induced financial woes—encountered at orchestras throughout the U.S.—have pressed the group into significant cutbacks and business model restructuring after the investment-based endowment shriveled from a peak of $120 million.

Management has repeatedly pointed to a struggling endowment, which stood at $80 million at the end of its previous fiscal year on Aug. 31.

A year earlier, the fund was $89 million. After accounting for stock gains, the ISO drew down about 13 percent of its balance, exceeding the 5 percent spending rate experts generally believe is sustainable.

Orchestra expenses represented about 45 percent of the roughly $26 million ISO spent in fiscal 2011. Concert production was another 19 percent.

The musicians argue that cutting into the orchestra’s core product would chase off talent and ultimately ruin the ISO.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Choice between a democrat and a question mark? Take the question mark. We have all seen what the democrats will do.

  2. Its easy to blame workers. What about the Management of the Mill. Its not smart in business to not have a back up plan. Workers are afforded sick days in most cases. Union or not. Whether drunk partying, or a real sickness. Why would you as a businessman/woman not have a rotation of workers incase this happens. This is not an exclusive union protection. If the company can prove bad intentions on the part of any union employee. They can take action. Most CBA's have a 3 strike policy. Just like most Non-union company policies. You should read a CBA sometime. There are protections for companies too. Unions understand that businesses need to make money. If they don't, the union's member won't have a place to work.

  3. My kids play hockey on the North side and we have been very happy with the youth program. More Ice would create more opportunity for kids to pay this great sport. With 3 rinks that would also create more figure skating opportunities. What better gift to give your kids than a sport they will love!

  4. Naah, only Indy place fans were robbed of seeing Zanardi race. CART fans saw his amazing talents just about every weekend. And F1 fans saw him too. Zanardi didn't care he wasn't at Indy, neither do 99.18% of other race fans world wide. And CART fans are quite pleased of the domination of their drivers and owners have had at Indy, in the IRL, and in the current Indycar series....almost 99.18% of the time since 2000 Indy 500. I respect Zanardi, but his life goes on without Indy. Sucks to be you Capt.

  5. So let me get this right: gun permits online are fraud proof, but voting is as easy as 1-2-3.--But at least we agree that someone without a photo ID cannot be trusted with a gun.

ADVERTISEMENT