Louisville Orchestra Musicians Offer Pay Freeze

Classic Arts News   Louisville Orchestra Musicians Offer Pay Freeze
The musicians of the Louisville Orchestra sent a letter to management yesterday saying that they would accept a two-year wage freeze in order to head off bankruptcy, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

The players also said that they would drop a previous demand for health care for their dependents. They asked that other contract provisions be determined through mediation.

Executive director Scott Provancher declined the offer, telling the Courier-Journal, "Though we appreciate the gesture...we are unable to live up that offer." Both sides had previously expressed a willingness to meet with a mediator.

The exchange is the latest development in a labor crisis that acquired desperate urgency last month when management pulled its most recent offer off the table and said that it would declare bankruptcy unless musicians accepted a substantial restructuring of their contract. The players' current contract expires on August 31.

Provancher told the paper that management planned to inform musicians soon of the changes that would need to be made to avoid a bankruptcy filing. Management currently expects to run out of cash in April.

The Courier-Journal reported yesterday that the orchestra is moving ahead with the search for a new music director despite the uncertainty of its future. The seven finalists for the post, including Mischa Santora, who will conduct the orchestra next week, have been briefed on the situation.

"We don't want to handicap ourselves if a solution is reached," Provancher said.

The Courier-Journal also printed an opinion piece by violinist Tamara Meinecke criticizing orchestra chairman Joseph Pusateri for his management of the crisis and called for talks to resume.

"After only three negotiation sessions, during which progress was seemingly being made," she wrote, "Pusateri announces in the paper that he is canceling the negotiations, pulling the board's only offer off the table, and threatening the musicians and the community with a bankruptcy if the musicians don't sign an agreement immediately.... Adding insult to injury, Pusateri then made the rounds of every media outlet in town to accuse the musicians of being unwilling to negotiate."

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