Cleveland Orchestra is on strike

By Lawrence A. Johnson

The musicians of the Cleveland Orchestra went on strike Monday, fulfilling their vow to carry through with a work stoppage over an ongoing wage dispute with management.

Wearing concert formalwear, several Cleveland musicians held a press conference outside of Severance Hall in the freezing temperatures Monday morning.  A mediated negotiating session is scheduled for noon today, but, if no sudden breakthrough happens, it seems all but certain that the Cleveland Orchestra’s Miami concerts at the Adrienne Arsht Center this weekend and next will be canceled.

A statement released Sunday night by oboist Jeffrey Rathbun, chair of the musicians’ negotiating committee, addressed the fact that these residency events will be a victim of the strike.

“We regret that it appears we will not be going to our residency at Indiana University and we send apologies to the students, faculty and alumni. We also regret that we will not be playing in our winter home at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and trust that our friends and supporters in Miami understand that if we played, it would be a great series of concerts in the short term and the beginning of the end of the quality that they, and people everywhere, have come to expect from The Cleveland Orchestra.”

Management has offered a three-year contract with a 5% cut the first year, a restoration of that cut the second year, and a 2.5% raise the third year. The union has offered a salary freeze for this year with no cuts.

The Cleveland Orchestra has been performing without a contract since its last agreement expired in August. Current annual base pay for the Cleveland Orchestra is $140,200, seventh among orchestras in the country.

The rancorous dispute between musicians and management in Ohio reflects the broader economic situation across the country as orchestras and opera companies faced with deep losses in endowments and declining tickets sales and donations, attempt to hold the line on musician wages or get concessions.

The Arsht Center has stated that updates on the situation would be posted on its website. But to date there has not been any mention of the simmering Cleveland Orchestra contract dispute, and, as of this morning, no word about the strike, and tickets appear to still be on sale.  President and CEO M. John Richard has stated that if the Cleveland performances are canceled, refunds will be issued, and ticketholders will be notified by email or phone.

Posted in News

One Response to “Cleveland Orchestra is on strike”

  1. Posted Jan 19, 2010 at 12:30 am by Sam

    If the strike continues, musicians from Miami should start a Cleveland residency to fill the void.

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Mon Jan 18, 2010
at 12:22 pm
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