The Musicians of the FWSO would like to comment on FWSO Management's public statements made on 9/20/16. Ms. Adkins is quoted in the Star-Telegram article as stating "The union has not requested a meeting with us..." Apparently Ms. Adkins is unaware that the union is the Musicians and we have already repeatedly requested that Management return to the negotiating table in order to resolve the remaining issues with their recent Last, Best and Final offer. Canceling programs one week at a time, but with no movement toward a return to negotiations is punitive to the public, as well as the Musicians who are hoping for a resolution.
In a September 19 email sent to FWSO patrons, Management asserted that the “Union” and Musicians’ negotiating committee reversed course. This is false.
- The call for “Growth, not Cuts” has been consistent for the last 15 months.
- The job of a negotiating committee and union representatives is to come to the best possible agreement, and present it to the Musicians at large.
- The August 31st tentative agreement was brought to the Musicians with a clear recommendation for ratification.
- Despite this, the Musicians overwhelmingly rejected the contract.
- This wasn’t a reversal. It was a vote of no confidence.
The key dispute between the Musicians and Management has nothing to do with the projected deficit, nor the fact that there have been deficits from losses over the last couple of years. The Musicians are always made fully aware of these challenges.
The real issue is that the Musicians took a 13.5% pay cut in 2010 worth $3 million, and saw no benefit from their sacrifice.
- did not turn that $3 million savings into success.
- kept a flat budget even after the Texas/Fort Worth economy came back to life post-2010.
- consistently dipped into a contingency fund to balance the budget.
- never made a plan to replenish the contingency fund.
The Musicians do not dispute the projected $700,000 deficit, except perhaps to add that the FWSO carries no actual debt. The Musicians dispute management’s constant motto that “there is no more money in Fort Worth” for the following reasons:
- Through its 2016 “Million Dollar Summer” campaign, the Fort Worth Opera doubled its donor base and raised $1 million in just three months.
- The FWSO’s Strategic Plan clearly recommends an increase in fundraising staff to 5 members, but that department has had only 3 members, on average, for the past three years. Orchestras of similar size have 2-3 times the number of fundraising staff members as the FWSO.
- Orchestras of similar size spend about 8% of their budget on fundraising; the FWSO only spends 4% of its budget on fundraising.
- When paid performances lost in the recession returned and demand for concerts increased, the budget continued to shrink.
- When the Musicians repeatedly asked for plans for an endowment campaign or reaching out to the subscribers and donors for additional help, Management said no.
Management has repeatedly referenced principal players' salaries in an attempt to disguise the fact that section Musicians, who represent the majority of the orchestra, will have their salary cut to $51,370. As a result, the Fort Worth Symphony salary would rank 33rd among the nation’s top 50 orchestras. The reason principal players have additional compensation is that they have more responsibilities, including performing solos with the orchestra and administrative duties outside of rehearsal time.
Management’s offer of “surplus sharing” seems disingenuous, considering Management projects a deficit every year. Given Management’s unwillingness over 15 months of negotiation to discuss any plan for growth, wouldn’t this contract language only encourage Management NOT to raise additional funds? Wouldn’t it be a greater incentive to have language that offers the Musicians a raise if Management does NOT hit their targeted fundraising goals?
Benefits: Health care, Vacation
As Management states, it is no surprise that health care costs are rising.
However, you may be surprised to learn:
- It costs $1750 per month for a musician to insure their family through the FWSO plan.
- The FWSO is the only orchestra in the country that plays more than 20 weeks per year and has NO disability benefits.
- The Dallas Symphony and the Houston Symphony each has 65 days of paid vacation per year. The FWSO Management’s current offer is 35 days.
Management says the “letters, emails and calls of encouragement confirm your understanding that the FWSO must be managed in a fiscally responsible manner for the long-term health of the Orchestra.”
Does this mean Management
- is only receiving positive phone calls?
- is ignoring all of the calls they have received in complaint? (Perhaps because those who have called haven’t donated enough to warrant consideration?)
- is counting how many calls they get for both sides and then deciding where public opinion really lies?
Is the FWSO Management being fiscally responsible when they:
- Fall short on raising enough money to pay the musicians?
- Use a contingency fund every year to cover operating costs?
- Ignore professional advice to expand the fundraising department?
- Have a new Vice-President of Development every year?
- Don’t have a Strategic Plan past the year 2017?