FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fort Wayne Philharmonic musicians took their cause to the doors of Barrett McNagny law firm on East Berry Street where negotiations continue after the players association went on strike Thursday over wages and availability.
Negotiations picked up again Monday at 2 p.m. regarding a strike that has affected holiday programs such as the popular Holiday Pops concert, but both sides failed to reach an agreement Monday after nearly five hours of negotiating.
Attorney Anthony Stites, representing management, told WANE 15 he would not be able to make statements during negotiations. Around 4 p.m., Sara Manning, project manager for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, sent an email saying both parties were “still at the table. We will keep you apprised of any developments as they become available.”
However, Campbell MacDonald, the players’ association chair, did reveal some of the musicians’ demands just before entering the law firm as one of a small team of negotiators.
Musicians are currently asking for an 8% raise over what they were given two years ago during negotiations. As of now, the base salary is $22,000 a year.
In a statement, Manning said the Philharmonic offered a 12 percent increase for a three year contract over musician’s current wages, but their current salaries are a pandemic pay cut from what they were making in 20-20.
The two sides have met nine times since the players’ contract ran out in August.
They are also fighting the elimination of three full time positions which MacDonald said management believes should be part time. Those positions include principal harp, principal tuba and principal French third horn, MacDonald said.
Currently, there are 44 full-time and 19 part-time musicians.
Besides wages, there’s an issue with player availability, MacDonald said.
“We are available to play, and all of our musicians are available to play, and all of our musicians are available to work whenever they are scheduled,” MacDonald said. Availability is historically morning, noon and night, but the hours between 4 to 7 p.m. have been traditionally set aside for musicians “to have lives, to go to our family’s functions, maybe have dinner once a week if that. We’re always tied up at night and the time, 4-7, is sacrosanct for us because that’s how we are able to function as the rest of the world does.”
Full time musicians service time is somewhere between 17 and 22 hours of work, however, musicians practice “all the time.”
“This idea that we are not full time workers is absurd,” MacDonald said. Orchestras don’t have a standard work schedule like 8 to 5 or 9 to 5.
“We have come to an agreement on a number of conditions regarding flexibility in scheduling with some additional flexibility to the Philharmonic,” MacDonald said. “We’ve adjusted some work rules for them.”
The big sticking point is wages. “Our resolve is very, very strong. It depends on them and what they’re willing to do,” MacDonald said.