The previous contract expired in August, but musicians have continued to play while negotiations continued.
The main sticking point, musicians say, is pay. Their base salary is just $15,758‹slightly below what they earned in 1992, and far less than salaries in comparable orchestras.
Musicians accepted several rounds of pay cuts and freezes in the early 1990s, when the NMSO's finances were precarious. "Our salaries are still reflecting times when we made sacrifices for the organization, yet the organization continues to grow in every other respect," cellist Carla Lehmeier-Tatum told the paper.
Executive director Kevin Hagen agreed that musicians deserve a raise. "We're talking about increases," he said. "The question is, how big can the increases be?"