Strike Looms at St. Louis Symphony

Classic Arts News   Strike Looms at St. Louis Symphony
The musicians of the St. Louis Symphony are on the verge of going on strike after seven hours of talks yesterday failed to produce agreement on a new contract, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

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."

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