Musicians told reporters that a week into the negotiations, orchestra officials told them that if a contract is not signed by February 1, the orchestra would not announce its 2006-07 schedule or make other preparations for the new season. The current contract expires on June 30.
But orchestra officials denied that they had made any threat, and said at a board meeting yesterday that the ensemble's subscription renewal drive would begin on February 8 as planned.
Cellist John Holland, the chair of the musicians' negotiating committee, told the Post and Courier that board president Ted Halkyard had imposed the deadline in order to prevent a strike. "We have never threatened to strike and so I don't know why he is worried," Holland said.
Halkyard said that no such deadline existed.
The musicians' last contract, signed in 2003, included an 18 percent pay cut.