There is not harmony between the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and its musicians these days. The new contract is demanding steep pay cuts and changes in work rules, and the musicians union may strike if a balance is not reached soon.
Both sides were sitting down Friday with a federal mediator in hopes of reaching a mutual agreement on a new deal.
DSO President Ann Parsons said she hopes the meeting will resolve the dispute, but knows that it will not be an easy process.
“We are far apart, absolutely,” Parsons said. “I think there is always a way to make a deal, and I’m sure that with a third-party in the room, some of those things will be put on the table and we can actually have a good conversation about them.”
Union spokesman Hayden McKay said the union is not looking for pay raises. In fact, they have agreed to take some pay cuts, but want that money restored by the third year of the contract.
“Detroit Symphony’s finances are not very good right now, we may have different views as to how that happened, but we are proposing our own cuts of 22% next year and further cuts after that,” McKay explained.
Parsons wants to move past the public conversation about the strife, and lay everything out at the meeting – a move she believes will bring closure to the conflict.
“I believe that as hard as change is, that our players are going to embrace change, they are going to work with us, we are going to work with them,” Parsons said.
If the issue isn’t resolved at the meeting, McKay and the rest of the union plan to meet Saturday to decide on their next course of action – potentially a strike.
Although both sides have very different opinions, McKay emphasized a shared goal of keeping a first class orchestra in Detroit.
Stay with WWJ for updates on the DSO contact talks.
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