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ISO contract talks continue; union pitches 2-month extension

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Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra managers and musicians failed to meet a Friday deadline to agree on a new contract, but the symphony did not follow through on threats to cancel the first two weeks of its new season.
 
“Right now, we have no word of it being canceled,” said musicians’ union representative Jack Brennan. “We've been negotiating hard the last few days.”

Musicians’ previous contract expired Sept. 2. Representatives of the union and the financially strapped not-for-profit have been battling over a proposal to trim musicians' 52-week contracts to 38 weeks and cut salaries by 40 percent.  ISO also wants to reduce the size of the orchestra from 87 positions to 69.

ISO management last week told union negotiators that the group would cancel its Sept. 14-15 and Sept. 21-23 shows if no agreement was in place by Friday.

Instead, the union suggested a two-month extension of the previous collective bargaining agreement, along with a 17-percent salary concession while talks continue. Managers said they were reviewing the extension proposal.

Musicians’ chief negotiator said the two sides made progress this week with the help of a mediator.

“This proposed two-month contract extension will keep the music on stage for the people of Indiana and allows for a period where we ‘play and talk,’ which has occurred in previous contract negotiations,” Richard Graef, chairman of the musicians’ negotiating committee, said in a prepared statement. “It is unprecedented for the musicians to offer concessions during the ‘play and talk’ period.”
 
ISO spokeswoman Jessica DiSanto said management received the proposal just before 6 p.m. Friday—the same time it was released to the media.
 
“We haven't yet had sufficient time to analyze it and informed the union that we will respond tomorrow,” Di Santo said in a prepared statement.

Brennan said the union set a midnight Saturday deadline for management’s decision on the contract extension.

 

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