Union: ISO threatening to cancel shows if demands not met

August 31, 2012

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is threatening to cancel the first two weeks of its 2012-2013 season if musicians do not accept management’s proposal for new contracts, union representatives said Friday.

The musicians’ negotiating committee said ISO executives gave a Sept. 7 deadline to accept their proposal, otherwise the organization will cancel its shows on Sept. 14-15 and Sept. 21-23.

“While we continue to negotiate with the [Indianapolis Symphony] Society in good faith, we were dismayed to learn that they are threatening to cancel the first two concerts of the season,” Richard Graef, chairman of the musician’s negotiating committee, said in a prepared statement. “It is and always has been our goal to find a solution that not just offers financial sustainability, but keeps the musicians on stage playing great music for the community.”

IBJ first reported Tuesday that the ISO’s administrators wanted significant concessions from the musicians as a cost-saving move. The moves would turn the full-time orchestra into a part-time operation.

As of Thursday afternoon, management was seeking the elimination of 18 musicians (from 87 to 69), across-the-board pay cuts of more than 40 percent, a reduction in the performance season from 52 weeks to 38 weeks, and major changes to the pension plan, according to the union.

The musicians’ most recent offer included an orchestra with 82 musicians, pay cuts of less than 14 percent and 14 weeks of unpaid furloughs over five years.

Management rejected the union’s latest proposal, according to Friday’s statement. The ISO said Friday afternoon that it will exchange tickets with anyone holding them if the concerts are canceled.
Jackie Groth, the ISO's interim CEO, said management offered the ultimatum because it wanted to make sure ticket holders had enough time to swap shows before it was too late.
“There’s a date which you can’t go beyond [the contract deadline] without knowing whether you can perform,” she said.

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