The musicians meet today to vote on management's most recent offer. If the offer is not accepted, a strike will begin immediately. The musicians' previous contract expired yesterday.
The primary sticking point in the talks is salary, according to the Post-Dispatch. Musicians currently make a minimum of $73,900. Management is seeking a pay cut, which officials say is necessary to reach fiscal stability; musicians, who accepted a cut three years ago when the SLSO faced bankruptcy, want a raise.
Since that financial crisis, the SLSO has since boosted its endowment with the help of a $40 million challenge grant, but orchestra president Randy Adams insists that the endowment is still not big enough to support higher salaries. In November, management offered musicians a minimum salary of $61,000; more recently, Adams told the Post-Dispatch, $16 million in pledges to the endowment campaign have allowed management to raise its offer above $70,000.
The musicians' position is understandable, Adams said. "They have been honorable and forthright and very clear on what they want. I do understand their desire to improve their financial position, but there is a limit on what the Symphony can offer."
Flutist Jan Gippo, the chairman of the musicians' negotiating committee, said that a strike was not a foregone conclusion. "I want to hear what my musicians have to say," he said. "It's a collective, and I'm not ready to pre-empt any of the discussions the musicians might want to have."