We, the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra, have decided to withhold our services and strike. We believe this is the only way we can gain the attention of our entire community and begin in a meaningful way the process of reversing the shameful decline of our treasured institution. ...
This strike is not about the musicians' greedy search for ever more money. If it were, we would have gone on strike in 2009, when our salary was reduced by more than 1 percent. We would have gone on strike in 2010, when we absorbed a wage freeze. We would have gone on strike in 2011, when our salary went down by a further 14 percent. We make no apology for wanting to be well compensated when we have devoted countless hours of hard work to achieving a level of musicianship which has placed us at the very top of our profession. To claim otherwise would be disingenuous. But our actions over the past decade clearly demonstrate that we have been willing to continue to play at the very highest level while our salary has greatly declined relative to the pay of other major American orchestras.
Over the past nine years, we have endured multiple cuts to our wages, pension, and working conditions in the hopes that our sacrifices would give the Association time to rebuild and restore us to our proper status. We did not strike a year ago, when we reluctantly signed a one-year contract on the condition that the world-renowned consultant, Michael Kaiser, be brought in to lend his expertise to revitalizing the Philadelphia Orchestra. He issued his report in April, 2016. Five months later, the Association has not yet publicly adopted a single one of his recommendations.
Just as in any other highly skilled profession, symphony orchestras compete for a small pool of talent, constantly striving to engage the very best in our field.
According to an August 2nd article on Philly.com, “Salaries for first-year lawyers at big firms in Philadelphia are topping out at $180,000 a year to keep pace with New York competitors.” Casey Ryan, a labor and employment partner at the prominent Philadelphia legal firm of Reed Smith, says that "For us it came down to investing in the strongest talent, both from a recruitment and a retainment standpoint.” (http://articles.philly.com/2016-08-02/business/74806302_1_law-firms-john-soroko-law-placement)
Closer to home, Drew McManus points out on his Adaptistration blog that “ According to the [Philadelphia Orchestra Association's Fiscal Year 2013 Federal tax] return, The Philadelphia Orchestra Association undertakes a thorough process to ensure that the executive compensation it pays to its top management officials and all of its officers and key employees of the Association is reasonable given the market in which the Association operates.” (http://www.adaptistration.com/blog/2016/09/13/tensions-build-in-philadelphia-orchestra-negotiations/)
Do the rules about attracting top talent apply to attorneys and Philadelphia Orchestra Association management, but not to world-class musicians? Does it matter to us that last season our base salary was more than 18 percent less than the Boston Symphony, and over 24 percent less than that of the San Francisco Symphony? Yes, it does.
In order for us to remain a great orchestra, we must be able to attract and retain the best players. If a talented musician has to decide between auditioning for Philadelphia or Boston or San Francisco, which orchestra will they choose?
We can no longer remain silent while we continue in a downward spiral. This is no time for business as usual. More than four years after the Philadelphia Orchestra emerged from bankruptcy, we are still waiting for a positive sign, a real indication from the Association that it intends to restore us to our proper position in the symphonic world. This strike is a step we take with the greatest reluctance, only after all other methods have failed us.
The City of Philadelphia, the United States, and the world deserve live classical music of the highest artistic standards, a tradition which we have upheld for over a century.
John Koen, Chairman, Members Committee
9/30/2016 09:20:24 pm
POM - You all have my most firm support. Whatever I can do to support your efforts through this difficult time, please know that I am willing, able, and ready.
9/30/2016 09:38:46 pm
The two guests and I had looked forward to this Sunday's concert, had made special plans in order to attend. I have always been in awe of the musicianship of every single member and been spellbound by the musical magic the orchestra through the years. My guests, however, although musicians themselves, never had the joy of listening and listening while in the fabulous Kimmel Center which was built specifically for our famous orchestra.
10/1/2016 12:37:55 am
POM you know I am behind you all of the way.
10/1/2016 09:11:02 am
My wife and I have been regular subscription concert attenders for 30 years, and our two daughters, now in their twenties, have grown up attending with us as soon as they were old enough. The musicians are what makes this orchestra so fabulous, and we fully support you in taking this action. Even though we have tickets to see you later this month, missing those concerts is a small price to pay for maintaining the quality, standards, and professionalism of the musicians. Please let us know what we can do to support you.
10/2/2016 08:06:07 am
I had little idea of the abysmal salary decline of the "world class" musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra. It goes without saying that this musical institution is a treasure to the City of Brotherly Love which is forsaking its sobriquet through its treatment of "our" heritage, a history that defines and ennobles it. My sincere hope and charge is that this is resolved meaningfully and fairly to all concerned. We cannot be without the majesty of this ensemble too long.
10/1/2016 10:22:20 am
I am totally in support of the world class musicians who deserve fair and adequate compensation.
10/1/2016 11:13:37 am
LIving in the Boston area, where we support and celebrate our world class orchestra members, I find it shameful and inexplicable that the administration of the Philadelphia Orchestra is so abusive of their renowned orchestra--whose members are, after all, the ones whose performance excellence attracts audiences year after year (and their money).
10/1/2016 12:51:13 pm
As a fellow musician in Philadelphia, I stand in solidarity with you.
10/1/2016 01:11:36 pm
Hello, your email does not seem to be working. So i'll send it here!
10/1/2016 02:07:41 pm
As a resident of Minneapolis, I supported the Minnesota Orchestra musicians when they were locked out, and they appreciated the support they received from their fellow musicians in all genres from around the country. The best of luck to you all!
10/1/2016 02:09:20 pm
What makes this orchestra great is the musicians. Not keeping their salaries competitive is just plain brainless. When the orchestra's reputation goes down the tubes, it will be too late to rethink your selfish and faulty administration. Cut the salaries of all administrative staff and PAY THE MUSICIANS!
10/1/2016 10:28:14 pm
At 69 yrs of age I remember fondly the great performances of the Philadelphia Philharmonic. It was my introduction to fine classical music from an early age. Even though I now live in Seattle I still have the greatest respect for your musicians. Best of luck. My prayers are with you.
10/2/2016 12:07:52 am
Dearest Brothers and Sisters ! The news of your courage has spread like wild fire all over our Metropolitan Opera House wher I have been a full time chorister for over two decades. We have all, also, taken the ubiquitous pay cuts. It was our intention to help our beloved company survive and flourish. No doubt you will hear from from us in the no too distant future but until then know that your friends and colleagues at the Metropolitan Opera House innNYC are inspired and strengthened by your resolve!
10/2/2016 01:26:40 am
You have my support and the support of many of your fellow Americans nation wide. The talent you display and investment you have put into this career is in no way matched with your salary. I applaud you all for taking this action.
10/2/2016 11:48:22 am
I love the orchestra. We used to have a subscription for 5 concerts every year. I am retired and on a fixed income. Therefore now with the price hikes I can only afford one or two concerts a year. If everyone gets a lot more money on your end, ticket prices will have to rise completely out of my affordable range. I am sure there are others in my situation. Maybe administrators should get lower salaries and some onto artists. When I was at orchestra last there were a lot of empty seats.
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