After two years without a contract, the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra Musicians, members of the American Federation of Musicians Local 47, voted by an overwhelming majority to strike. The votes were tallied and made public on December 1, 2017.
About the Pasadena Symphony and Pops musicians
- Members of this orchestra make, on average, less than $4,000 per year from their work with the Pasadena Symphony.
- A great number of these musicians have been members of the orchestra for 10, 20, or more than 30 years.
- As freelance, professional artists, many Pasadena musicians perform in other orchestras, and teach at CSUN, CalArts, USC, Colburn School to make ends meet.
Context and history
- For the past 10 years, orchestra members have endured wage freezes and cutbacks in order to save their organization.
- Management made promises during the financial crisis to restore these generous concessions once the organization was back on its feet, but new management has disavowed those commitments.
- Wages: After 10 years of austerity, Pasadena musicians have fallen far behind the cost of living.
- Orchestra Size: Many tenured musicians have ceased to be called for work because of cutbacks.
- Family Medical Leave: Management refuses to extend FMLA-like protections to musicians despite the years of dedicated service of their players. Illness or injury could mean a musician loses their place in the orchestra.
Finances of the Pasadena Symphony Association
- The PSA has a healthy endowment, increasing revenues, and substantial reserves.
- The PSA reports revenue surpluses between $200,000 and $700,000 in recent years.
- The PSA now spends less than 25% of its budget on more than 70 tenured orchestra musicians.
- As negotiations have progressed, the elected orchestra committee has held a series of musician meetings to discuss the issues and offers on the table.
- Musicians have taken several actions to show their solidarity and resolve, including wearing blue ribbons during their concerts, passing out leaflets to audience members, and addressing the Pasadena Symphony Association Board of Directors.
- After receiving a “Last and Final” offer from management, musicians voted in a secret ballot election to authorize their bargaining team to call a strike.
- The bargaining team remains open to negotiating with PSA management, in the hopes of avoiding a work stoppage.