Strikes Averted, for Now, in Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland

Classic Arts News   Strikes Averted, for Now, in Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland
Musicians' contracts expired at midnight last night at the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestra, but players at all three ensembles agreed to keep talking.

In Philadelphia, management and musicians agreed to "stop the clock" at the request of the city's mayor, John Street, who has been mediating talks since the musicians' first contract extension expired ten days ago. A statement from the orchestra said that talks would resume this morning; according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, musicians have no immediate plans to strike, but will retain a walkout as an option.

On Sunday, the Inquirer quoted a "source involved in contract talks" as saying that with a series of concerts for children scheduled this week, musicians believed that striking now would hurt their public image. A more likely strike date, the paper said, is November 19, when music director Christoph Eschenbach is next scheduled to conduct.

Chicago Symphony musicians and management agreed on Saturday morning to extend their talks for 24 hours, until 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. According to press reports, a strike seemed likely late last week, when musicians were advised to clean out their lockers. But a statement from the orchestra issued Saturday said, "Both parties feel that good progress has been made. They continue to work diligently and in good faith to achieve resolution on outstanding differences related to the agreement, prior to the new deadline."

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, musicians have scheduled a meeting on Tuesday morning at 11:30 a.m., where, the paper says, they will either discuss a tentative deal, if one is made, or make strike plans.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, talks are continuing in Cleveland today, but there is no formal contract extension. Musicians proposed a 30-day pact, but management rejected such a deal, apparently because board members want to limit the period in which musicians are paid under their old contract. Executive director Hary Hanson told the Plain Dealer that "prolonging the bargaining process is damaging to the orchestra's ability to achieve financial recovery."

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