Symphony Executive Director Corey Cowart recently stated
“Currently, we are in the midst of good faith bargaining with the aid of federal mediators. We have had three meetings (Feb. 14 Feb. 17 and March 8), with a fourth meeting in the process of being scheduled with the help of mediators.
"To date we have provided multiple contract proposals and have offered to enter into binding arbitration, similar to the concept outlined in the proposed labor supported Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
"We have faith the process will lead to an agreement all parties can support so we can, together, restore live performances for our community, our patrons, and music lovers.
A similar statement can be found on the San Antonio Symphony website.
Nothing could be further from the truth than a claim that the Symphony Society is engaging in good faith bargaining. So far, Symphony board and management seem interested only in signing an agreement that satisfies their demands but offers nothing but financial and artistic destruction to the musicians.
As of the last bargaining session on March 8th, the board and management were still demanding a significant reduction in the size of the orchestra from the present 72 positions down to 50, resulting in an ensemble too small to perform the great works of Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, even John Williams, all of which sell tickets and fill halls. The board and management are still demanding a significant reduction in musicians’ wages, already far below industry standards, which together with demanded cuts in health insurance benefits would leave musicians in penury. And yet Symphony Society leadership still refuses to conduct a broad public fundraising appeal.
In short, the Symphony board and management do not show any interest or willingness to do anything but insist on their own demands, including some newly introduced non-economic changes, none of which benefit the musicians in any way, all of which are artistically destructive to the orchestra. This is not negotiating; it’s the presentation of ultimatums. (For an exploration of the likely backstory behind Symphony Society demands, please see https://www.mosas.org/post/the-4-7m-elephant-in-the-room )
Meanwhile every proposal offered by the musicians since January 6 includes the musicians ending the strike and returning to work on the condition that they receive a fair contract that does not destroy the orchestra. The musicians are not requesting anything more than a normal contract that will put a complete symphony on stage with similar pay and benefits to those previously negotiated in good faith in 2019.
The musicians of the San Antonio Symphony have made it clear that they cannot and will not perform under the conditions that the Symphony board wrongfully imposed last September. The board’s demands will lead to the destruction of the San Antonio Symphony as the community has come to know and embrace it. We musicians refuse to be complicit in this destruction. We will continue to fight for the full-sized, fully professional symphony orchestra which the great city of San Antonio deserves.
We remain willing to meet with the Symphony representatives in the hope that they will drop their ultimatum strategy and genuinely negotiate.
-Mary Ellen Goree
Principal Violin II
Chair, Negotiating Committee