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A History of Sacrifice

Updated: Jan 26

Warning, this post is quite lengthy and detailed. For those who want the TL:DR, it is this: time and time again the musicians have agreed to concessionary terms with the San Antonio Symphony, giving up salary which was already promised to them, foolishly believing our board and management’s repeated promise that each such sacrifice would result in a better future outcome. I will give the compensation figures in dollars of the time followed by [conversion to 2021 dollars]. In an attempt to simplify a complicated subject, I am omitting EMG (broadcast/recording guarantee), parking, etc. which in any event are very small numbers which don’t materially change the history. I am also omitting concessionary agreements which were focused on pension contribution reductions; there were several. 1984-85 Eleven week strike followed by a four-year agreement at $458 [1209]/week, 38 weeks, 83 musicians. Annual base wage $17,404 [45,942] 1987-88 was supposed to be $545 [1316]/week, 40 weeks; following a contract cancellation (lockout) for half the season, was $560 [1352], 20 weeks. Annual base wage $11,200 [27,040]. 1993-94 Weekly wage reduced from $655 [1281] in 1992-93 to $605 [1149]. Annual base wage in 1993-94 was $23,595 [44,811]. 1998-99 Four-week lockout at beginning of the season; 39 weeks became 35. Since we are paid by the week, this was a 10% salary reduction. 2002-03 Last six weeks of the season canceled (15% salary reduction). Board declared bankruptcy in the summer of 2003. 2003-04 SEASON CANCELLATION – 100% LOSS OF SALARY – ANNUAL BASE WAGE ZERO - THIS WAS NOT A STRIKE!


2004-05 Returned with a 26-week season, wages $900 [1307], down to 72 musicians by attrition. Annual base wage $23,400 [33,982]. 2005 – 2007 small wage increases each season culminating in 2007-08 $1000 [1323]/week. Annual base wage $26,000 [34,398]. 2008-2009 Reopener cut number of weeks from 28 to 27. End of season wage was cut severely but the number of weeks remaining wasn’t stipulated so the calculation cannot be done precisely. 2009-10 Weeks cut from 29 to 28; weekly wage cut from $1030 [1317] to $893 [1142]. Annual base wage cut from $29,870 [38,179] to $25,004 [31,970] 2010-11 Season is 30 weeks; 13 weeks were paid at $1045 [1315] followed by a concessionary reopener and 17 weeks paid at $958 [1205]. Annual base wage reduced from the expected $31,350 [39,438] to the actual $29,871 [37,577]. 2012 Season reduced from 30 weeks to 27 (2012-13), 28 (2013-14), 29 (2014-15). Weekly wage more or less restored to a small increase over what 2010-11 started out as. 2016 three-week furlough granted by the musicians for a commensurate reduction in annual salary 2020-21 Pandemic season; musicians agreed to an eight-week season with major work rules concessions and a reduction in weekly base wage to $830. 2021-22 Musicians’ decades of sacrifices are rewarded by management’s intolerable and destructive imposition of terms reducing 72 musicians to 42 at 2/3 salary, reducing 26 full-time musicians to part-time at 1/3 salary with no benefits, and eliminating four positions.


-Mary Ellen Goree

Principal Violin II

Chair, Negotiating Committee



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