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Monday, April 12, 2021

Strike up the band: Fort Worth Symphony strike ends

The three-month-long strike by Fort Worth Symphony musicians is fine, the Italian term for the end of a composition.

Wednesday, Dec. 7, the musicians voted to approve a new contract that will run through July 31, 2020.

According to a news release from the Symphony, wages will be frozen for the first two years of the contract. During the third year, musicians’ weekly pay will increase 2 percent in year four, there will be a 2.5 percent increase and vacation days will be reduced from 35 to 28 days.

The agreement ending the work stoppage which began on Sept. 8, 2016. The agreement was reached after two days of federal mediation and more than a year of good faith bargaining, according to the news release.

Bridging the gap which existed between the proposals of the Symphony Association and the musicians, an anonymous donor stepped forward last week with a gift of $700,000 which led to a breakthrough in negotiations. This gift provided the Symphony Association the necessary financial relief to offer musicians a two-year pay freeze followed by two years of small increases. 

The orchestra has 65 full-time musicians who earned an average $62,000 annually, plus health benefits.

“It has been the collective goal of the management and the Board of Directors of the Fort Worth Symphony to financially stabilize the organization to secure the Orchestra’s short-term survival and long-term health,” said Amy Adkins, president and CEO. “This agreement addresses this goal while enabling the Orchestra to return to its mission of enriching this community and state with the beauty and power of symphonic music.”

“This generous donation,” Adkins continued, “provides the necessary stability for the next several years as we continue to implement plans to increase both earned and contributed revenue, including the ever-important growth of our endowment fund. We are also grateful to the musicians for their shared sacrifice by accepting wage freezes as we work together to find a new path forward for this great orchestra.”

“We are incrediblymoved by the generosity which has made this agreement possible,” said Dan Sigale, FWSO violist and chairman of the Musicians’ Negotiating Committee. “We also thank all our supporters who have stood by us during these past several months. We look forward to returning to our regular performances and sharing great music with our great city.”

The anonymous contribution substantially reduces the FWSO’s annual projected shortfall for the next few seasons. The remainder of the solution relies upon increased fundraising and audience development efforts.

The FWSO’s first performance following the work stoppage will take place on New Year’s Eve in a concert conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya at Bass Performance Hall.

“I’m thrilled the strike is resolved,” said FWSO Music Director Miguel Harth-Bedoya. “I can’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate the New Year than with the return of the Orchestra and its wonderful musicians. I will be proud to conduct its return concert on New Year’s Eve. I would like to take this opportunity to say to our community: This orchestra belongs to all of us; it raises our quality of life, it impacts our economy directly and indirectly. I’d like to ask the people of Fort Worth to help the orchestra come back not only strong, but stronger than ever.”

The remainder of the FWSO season remains as previously scheduled.

www.fwsymphony.org/

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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