FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Tuesday’s bargaining session ended with no new deal between the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Local 58, Fort Wayne Musicians Association, although the two sides appeared to be closer on pay than before.
Just before the scheduled Holiday Pops concerts, the musicians went on strike in early December over wages, musicians availability and the elimination of three positions. Pay had been cut during the pandemic and union members wanted a raise above pre-pandemic levels.
An emailed release from the Philharmonic said the board agreed to make the “extraordinary exception to draw out endowment funds to increase the generous wage offer to musicians.”
The release said the board had worked to return musicians to above pre-pandemic wages with a salary increase of “33.4% over three years.”
“We had looked forward to music returning to the Philharmonic and beginning the healing and recovery process to create a stronger, sustainable, and more unified Fort Wayne Philharmonic within our community. Unfortunately, the union is rejecting the offer despite the significant wage increases,” said Philharmonic Board chair Rick James in the release.
Musician spokesman Campbell MacDonald acknowledged the movement in pay.
“Over the course of negotiations today, Musicians presented three separate proposals to Philharmonic management. While the Philharmonic has moved closer to us on wages in their most recent proposal, management continues to demand the elimination of musicians from our full-time and part-time complement, removal of long established rights in our workplace, and further encroachment on our personal time. As always, we remain available to meet and engage in fair bargaining,” MacDonald emailed.
“They [the board members] have not demonstrated need in their non-economic demands,” Campbell added. “Rather, they seek further control over our time and workplace rights without telling us why.”
According to the release, there is not another scheduled date for both parties to return to the negotiating table.
The Fort Wayne Philharmonic’s President and CEO, Brittany Hall said, “The administration is open to returning to negotiations when the union is open to good faith bargaining.”
Campbell told WANE 15 talks are scheduled. “Both sides have agreed to negotiation dates later this month and in early January,” wrote Campbell. “Unavailability does not constitute an unwillingness to meet”
UPDATE: This story has been updated to include the response of the musicians.